Arguably one of the most important components of any gaming setup is the display. Refresh rate, resolution, and screen size can have a significant impact on how content is enjoyed. Bigger is often better. AOC applies that philosophy to the Agon AG271QG, a 27-inch, 1440p gaming monitor with a blistering fast 165 Hz refresh rate, IPS panel, and G-SYNC technology. There are only a handful of displays offering that same feature set, and AOC’s more affordable price compared to its competition makes it a worthwhile proposition.
The AG271QG features a sleek, sharp-angled design that won’t confuse you for an office monitor. Its silver metallic stand and red, rear paneling, both shaped in the form of a V, give the impression that the display is ready to take off. But the body is functional as well as attractive. It has a good five and a half inches of height adjustment, 20 degrees of swivel, -3.5/21.5 degrees of tilt, and can pivot between landscape and portrait orientations. The right side of the panel houses four USB 3.0 ports, two along the edge and two more facing downward around the back. Additional nearby ports include USB 3.0 upstream and 3.5mm microphone and headphone jacks. Furthermore, there’s a welcome headphone holder that can be pulled down or pushed back up out of sight.
There are only two video ports on the AG271QG, one DisplayPort and one HDMI. Both are downward facing, but thankfully they’re not difficult to get at due to the V-shaped portion of the rear panel and unobstructed space beneath it creating a decent view of the ports.
The monitor’s styling, abundance of USB ports, and extra features like the headphone holder are impressive, but the design isn’t without complaint. The built-in, two-watt speakers are as good a motivator for owning a pair of headphones or external speakers as I’ve yet heard. They’re tinny and hollow, though a display not being proficient at producing quality audio shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The OSD controls are kind of just there, as well. Navigating the menus can be a little difficult due to how small and close together the four buttons are.
The OSD consists of four submenus with a handful of basic configuration options. Luminance has adjustments for brightness, contrast, overdrive, Game Color (saturation), Shadow Control (black detail), and three gamma settings. Color Setup has a 20-point Low Blue Light setting and five color temperatures options (Warm, Cool, Computer, sRGB, and User). There are no picture presets. The OSD’s language, timeout delay, position, and transparency can be changed in the OSD Setup menu. Finally, the OSD Extras menu is where the OverClock and ULMB (Ultra Low Motion Blur) settings are found. The panel has a base refresh rate of 144 Hz, and can be taken up to 165 Hz via overclocking. ULMB strobes the backlight the reduce motion blur at the cost of brightness. I describe it in practice below, but the strength of its effect can be adjusted via the pulse width modulation setting. Reducing the PWM value improves clarity. However, I don’t recommend taking the value below its default of 100, as the screen becomes too dim.
The AG271QG’s picture quality and performance did not disappoint. The IPS panel delivered a sharp, richly colored image with 350 cd/m² of brightness, a 1000:1 contrast ratio, and excellent viewing angles. Gray uniformity was flawless. Black uniformity could have been better. Flashlighting was present in several corners, one more obvious than the rest, but for the most part it wasn’t noticeable in a majority of content. Ghosting wasn’t an issue, and image persistence – rare in modern LEDs but something I have seen recently on an IPS panel – was nonexistent. The 165 Hz refresh rate even proved a boon for general usage. Text and images remained clear and free of blur when scrolling through pages and documents.
The monitor’s strong gaming features made it very difficult to go back to a display without them. G-SYNC technology, which synchronizes a monitor’s refresh rate to the GPU, eliminates screen tearing and reduces stutter. It can’t be overstated how much G-SYNC can improve a visual experience. For example, Assassin’s Creed: Origins exhibits frequent stuttering on my machine. The framerate drops are largely minor, but they occur far too often as to be terribly distracting. Switching over to the AG27Q1G and enabling G-SYNC made Assassin’s Creed: Origins’ presentation buttery smooth, regardless of my framerate.
Most G-SYNC monitors support Ultra Low Motion Blur, and it’s a fun addition to play with here. ULMB can be toggled on with the press of the forward OSD button. It all but removes visible motion blur, preserving detail in fast action scenes. Some crosstalk is present when enabled, a faint double image around the edges of moving objects, but microstutters and flickering were not. Brightness is reduced by more than half, so it’s best used in brighter game environments. The other restrictions are that it can’t be used in conjunction with G-SYNC, and it will only work between refresh rates of 85 to 120 Hz.
AOC’s Agon AG271QG is a beautiful display with excellent gaming features. At around $600, it’s also an investment. However, similar models from Acer, Asus, and ViewSonic are asking $100 to $200 more. As such, the AG271QG is worth your attention if you’re in the market for a colorful, fast, and high-resolution gaming monitor.