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Asus ROG Swift PG278Q 27-inch G-Sync Monitor Review

Asus ROG Swift PG278Q G-Sync Monitor Review

Ever since G-Sync Technology Preview: Quite Literally A Game Changer back in December of last year, gamers have been anxiously waiting for compatible monitors to appear. Nvidia satiated the impatient by releasing an upgrade kit a few months back that allowed adventurous owners of Asus' VG248QE to modify the display themselves, enabling G-Sync functionality with an appropriate GeForce GTX graphics board.

Today we have the first G-Sync-enabled screen in our labs, Asus’ ROG Swift PG278Q. It’s a 27-inch TN-based monitor with 2560x1440 resolution, selectable refresh rates up to 144 Hz, and motion-blur reduction courtesy of a variable backlight strobe option. Asus also confers the elite Republic of Gamers branding, reserved for the company's hardcore gaming products.

ModelROG Swift PG278Q
Panel TypeTN
BacklightW-LED, edge array
Screen Size27-inch
Max Resolution2560x1440
Max Refresh Rate144 Hz
Aspect Ratio16:9
Native Color Depth8-bit
Native GamutsRGB
Response Time (GTG)1 ms
Brightness350 cd/m2
DisplayPort v1.21
HDMI v1.4-
Audio In-
USBv3.0 - 1 up, 2 down
Media Card Reader-
Panel DimensionsWxHxD w/base24.6 x 14.4 x 9.4 in620 x 363 x 237 mm
Panel Thickness2.6 in / 66 mm
Bezel Width.3-.5 in / 8-12 mm
Weight15.4 lbs / 7 kg
WarrantyThree years

Priced at $800, the Swift certainly isn't cheap. Then again, it also doesn't have any competition at present. Cutting-edge tech is packed into this new screen. The only thing that seems out of place is the TN panel it employs. This brand-new-for-2014 part comes from AU Optronics. It uses a white LED backlight and has a true 8-bit color depth.

We won’t go into a detailed explanation of G-Sync here. That was already covered thoroughly in the previously-linked preview. Simply, this is a new technology able to match the monitor’s refresh rate to the actual frame rate of the input signal.

Why is this important? To answer that, we need to look at how video signals originate. When you watch your television, the broadcast, streamed, or disc-based content is encoded at a specific frame rate. The output device sends it out at either its native rate or a modified one depending on the components in your signal chain. The point is the rate never changes. Therefore, it always matches the refresh rate of your display. Each frame is drawn from top to bottom at the beginning of each scan cycle.

In computer games, however, the frame rate is constantly changing. Because each image is rendered rather than simply displayed, processing overhead makes the draw time for each frame different. Of course your monitor doesn’t care about that. It just keeps drawing each frame from top to bottom 60 times per second (typically), regardless of when that frame actually arrives from the video card.

This means the display is usually in the middle of a refresh cycle when the frame arrives and therefore only draws part of it. The next frame arrives in the meantime and it’s just a little different, the image appears to tear horizontally. While higher refresh rates can mitigate the artifact, it can still show up even at 144 Hz.

G-Sync removes the monitor’s fixed-rate limitation and locks the input and output refresh rates to each other. Presto! No more screen tearing. No matter what the frame rate is at any given moment, all you see is perfectly smooth motion with no artifacts.

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