To define a gaming monitor, one usually focuses on things like panel response, input lag, adaptive refresh and blur reduction. But whenever we review a display with 1920x1080 pixels, the priority quickly shifts to resolution. It's pretty obvious that most users find QHD (2560x1440) to be the sweet spot. At that point you're seeing fine details without pixilation or jagged lines and you won't need a thousand-dollar video card to drive it at smooth framerates.
But what if you have that mega-buck system? Of course there's nothing like running a QHD monitor at 100fps with G-Sync or FreeSync. Still, there are those who thirst for the greater pixel density of an Ultra HD (3840x2160) panel in their gaming rig.
We've looked at several such products that offer decent image quality and reasonably fast response given their max refresh limit of 60Hz. It's generally accepted that when you're playing below 80-90fps, adaptive refresh becomes almost necessary. Though many people happily lived without it for years, once G-Sync and FreeSync came on the scene, there was no going back.
By putting the video card in charge of a constantly-varying refresh rate, the monitor only draws a frame when instructed to do so. That means an end to tearing artifacts, which can be very distracting, especially when the action drops below 40fps.
So far, we've only seen a tiny handful of Ultra HD screens with adaptive refresh. Last summer we checked out Acer's XB280HK with Nvidia's G-Sync technology and a 28-inch TN panel. Now we have a 27-inch FreeSync screen in the lab for testing: ViewSonic's new XG2700-4K IPS display.
27-inch IPS is a relatively new category among Ultra HD monitors. We've seen plenty of the inexpensive 28-inch TN models and several 32-inch jumbo screens as well. There are even 24-inch panels available though none of them have a gaming focus.
The XG2700-4K is designed and marketed as a gaming product but we were quite surprised upon opening the carton to find a calibration data sheet spec'd for our particular sample. The first thing we did was to research the product's price point and there we received a second surprise. At this writing it sells for around $650 on the street. So is it a professional display or a gaming monitor? The answer is yes on both counts.
Now you won't find a wide-gamut option so technically it doesn't completely qualify. But given the accuracy and performance we discovered in testing, the XG2700-4K is actually better in the sRGB colorspace than most of the dedicated pro screens we've reviewed. In looking at the specs, it says "gaming" more than "color-critical." AMD FreeSync is included, operating over a somewhat narrow range of 40-60Hz. We'd prefer to see a lower limit of 30Hz given the number of pixels in motion. You'll need at least a mid-grade video board to drive it above 40fps. You also get overdrive and low input lag options. The latter removes some processing overhead to help speed up panel response.
But you also get a two-point grayscale editor, a color management system, multiple gamma presets and several picture modes that hit every calibration target without adjustment. Add to that five video inputs and a USB 3.0 hub and you have a monitor that can do just about anything and it costs less than you'd expect for this kind of performance.
Can the XG2700-4K satisfy gamers and graphics pros alike? Let's take a look.