MSI Optix MAG272CQR Review: Decent Speed, High Contrast

Another MSI value performer

Editor's Choice
(Image: © MSI)

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Uncalibrated – Maximum Backlight Level

To compare our review focus’ performance, we brought in a comparison group that’s all 165 and 170 Hz 27-inch QHD monitors. All are IPS, while the MAG272CQR is VA. Included are Gigabyte’s M27Q, Dell’s S2721DGF, Asus’ ROG Strix XG27AQ, MSI’s MAG274QRF and Acer’s XV272U-KV.

The MAG272CQR’s VA panel doesn’t give up too much output to its IPS competitors. If you really need 400 nits for SDR, the top three monitors can manage it, but the MSI comes up a little short of that mark. The Acer is limited in SDR mode but can deliver a lot more light for HDR content.

The black luminance test shows why we like VA monitors. The MAG272CQR’s 0.1188 nit black level is significantly lower than the others. This is a difference that is plainly visible to the naked eye. The resulting contrast ratio is 3,093:1, almost triple that of the next best screen in our comparison group.

It should be noted that we tweaked the monitor a bit to achieve these measurements. We had to select the user color temp and max the RGB sliders to measure the panel’s full light output. At factory settings, the max level is 309 nits with 2,550.5:1 contrast.

After Calibration to 200 nits

Our calibration to 200 nits brightness (see our recommended settings on page 1) increased the MAG272CQR’s lead in the black level contest with a very low measurement of 0.0678 nit. Thanks to accurate gamma, shadow detail is still perfectly visible, but blacks are true. Contrast is only a tad lower (2962.2:1 versus 3,093:1 at max brightness and default settings).

Due to some slight measured inconsistencies in the black parts of our ANSI checkerboard pattern, the MAG272CQR stumbled a bit in the intra-image contrast test. But 2,252.3:1 is still more than double any IPS screen we’ve tested and excellent performance.

Christian Eberle
Contributing Editor

Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors. Christian began his obsession with tech when he built his first PC in 1991, a 286 running DOS 3.0 at a blazing 12MHz. In 2006, he undertook training from the Imaging Science Foundation in video calibration and testing and thus started a passion for precise imaging that persists to this day. He is also a professional musician with a degree from the New England Conservatory as a classical bassoonist which he used to good effect as a performer with the West Point Army Band from 1987 to 2013. He enjoys watching movies and listening to high-end audio in his custom-built home theater and can be seen riding trails near his home on a race-ready ICE VTX recumbent trike. Christian enjoys the endless summer in Florida where he lives with his wife and Chihuahua and plays with orchestras around the state.