Asus' PA279Q May Very Well Have It All
Our overall experience with Asus' PA279Q was very positive. While its price is at the high-end of 27-inch QHD screens, great performance and copious features more than justify its status in the $800 bracket.
Just look at everything you get. A native 2560x1440 resolution, sRGB and Adobe RGB gamuts, six USB 3.0 ports, DisplayPort 1.2 with MST, on-screen grids, two fully tweakable user modes, a complete set of cables, a light hood...the list stretches long indeed. And don’t forget the factory calibration. The numbers we generated from the two fixed modes are impressive enough, even without all the extras.
We've been asking for a wide-gamut monitor that has an sRGB/Rec. 709 option. The PA279Q delivers on that request. Even though Asus includes a color management system, it really isn’t necessary given the superb accuracy of the fixed sRGB and Adobe RGB picture modes.
Comparisons to the excellent Samsung S27B970D are inevitable. For $300 less, Asus gives you greater brightness, better contrast, and equivalent color, grayscale, and gamma accuracy. The big feature missing from Samsung's offering is the wider color gamut. That factor alone is enough to recommend the PA279Q ahead of it. We also prefer Asus’ anti-glare screen to Samsung’s reflective one.
We’re impressed with Asus’ build quality, too. While all the company's display products we've reviewed are well-made, this monitor is a cut above the norm. The full-range ergonomic adjustments have a very high-quality feel, and the vast OSD has a very intuitive design that is easy to navigate. We especially enjoyed using the navigational joystick. Once you get the hang of it, you’re spoiled for life.
Things we didn’t like were minor. The aforementioned CMS just doesn’t work properly. Not only is luminance control missing, but the saturation and hue sliders only change values for colors at 100 percent saturation. The rest of the gamut goes untouched. Fortunately, the sRGB and Adobe RGB modes offer near-perfect color, so you don’t have to use them. The only caveat is that you give up the grayscale controls. Again, though, this isn't a great loss. Perhaps in the next model update Asus will expand upon its otherwise fixed modes.
Of course, we’re thoroughly spoiled by QHD screens now that there's a constant stream of them coming through our labs. Once you adjust to the smaller text and icon sizes, you’ll wonder how you managed with just FHD. Native 2560x1440 monitors still command a price premium in the super-popular 27-inch size, but the benefits are great. It’s hard to imagine an image looking sharper and more detailed. Then again, we've seen Ultra HD, and we're in the process of reviewing our first 3840x2160 display, incidentally also from Asus.
For now, QHD is the standard, and Asus' PA279Q is one of the best screens we’ve tested. Its feature set puts it above the competition and its price really isn’t all that out of line. For its excellent out-of-box performance, top-notch color accuracy, selectable color gamuts, and huge feature set, we’re giving it the Tom’s Smart Buy Award.