Delayed past its original late 2017 timeframe, let alone the April and May estimates, NVIDIA’s G-Sync HDR technology finally arrived over the last couple months courtesy of Asus’ ROG Swift PG27UQ and Acer’s Predator X27. First shown at Computex 2017 as prototypes, the 27-inch displays bring what are arguably the most desired and visible aspects of modern gaming monitors: ultra high resolution (4K), high refresh rates (144Hz), and variable refresh rate technology (G-Sync), all in a reasonably-sized quality panel (27-inch IPS-type). In addition to that, of course, are the various HDR-related capabilities with brightness and color gamut.

Individually, these features are just some of the many modern display technologies, but where resolution and refresh rate (and also input latency) are core to PC gaming, those elements typically work as tradeoffs, with 1440p/144Hz being a notable middle ground. So by the basic 4K/144Hz standard, we have not yet had a true ultra-premium gaming monitor. But today, we look at one such beast with the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ.

ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ G-SYNC HDR Monitor Specifications
  ROG Swift PG27UQ
Panel 27" IPS (AHVA)
Resolution 3840 × 2160
Refresh Rate OC Mode 144Hz (HDR, 4:2:2) 144Hz (SDR, 4:2:2)
Standard 120Hz (HDR, 4:2:2)
98Hz (HDR, 4:4:4)
120Hz (SDR, 4:4:4)
Over HDMI 60Hz
Variable Refresh Rate NVIDIA G-Sync HDR module
(actively cooled)
Response Time 4 ms (GTG)
Brightness Typical 300 - 600 cd/m²
Peak 1000 cd/m² (HDR)
Contrast Typical 1000:1
Peak 50000:1 (HDR)
Backlighting FALD, 384 zones
Quantum Dot Yes
HDR Standard HDR10 Support
Viewing Angles 178°/178° horizontal/vertical
Pixel Density 163 pixels per inch
0.155mm pixel pitch
Color Depth 1.07 billion
(8-bit with FRC)
Color Gamut sRGB: 100%
Adobe RGB: 99%
 DCI-P3: 97%
Inputs 1 × DisplayPort 1.4
1 × HDMI 2.0
Audio 3.5-mm audio jack
USB Hub 2-port USB 3.0
Stand Adjustments Tilt: +20°~-5°
Swivel: +160°~+160°
Pivot: +90°~-90°
Height Adjustment: 0~120 mm
Dimensions (with stand) 634 x 437-557 x 268 mm
VESA Mount 100 × 100
Power Consumption Idle: 0.5 W
Peak: 180 W (HDR)
Price $1999

As an ultra-premium gaming monitor of that caliber, the PG27UQ also has an ultra-premium price of $1999. For reasons we’ll soon discuss, the pricing very much represents the panel’s HDR backlighting unit, quantum dot film, and G-Sync HDR module. The full-array local dimming (FALD) backlighting system delivers the brightness and contrast needed for HDR, while the quantum dot film enhances the representable colors to a wider gamut, another HDR element. The new generation G-Sync HDR module deals with the variable refresh implementation, but with HDR, high refresh rate, and high resolution combined, bandwidth constraints require chroma subsampling beyond 98Hz.

In terms of base specifications, the PG27UQ is identical to Acer’s Predator X27 as it uses the same AU Optronics panel, and both monitors are essentially flagships for the G-Sync HDR platform, which includes the curved ultrawide 35-inch models and 4K 65-inch Big Format Gaming Displays (BFGD). Otherwise, there isn’t anything new here that we haven’t already known about in the long run-up.

NVIDIA G-SYNC HDR Monitor Lineup
Predator X27
ROG Swift PG27UQ
Predator X35
ROG Swift PG35VQ
Predator BFGD
ROG Swift PG65
Panel 27" IPS-type (AHVA) 35" VA
1800R curve
65" VA?
Resolution 3840 × 2160 3440 × 1440 (21:9) 3840 × 2160
Pixel Density 163 PPI 103 PPI 68 PPI
Max Refresh Rates 144Hz
60Hz (HDMI)
60Hz (HDMI)
60Hz (HDMI)
Backlighting FALD (384 zones) FALD (512 zones) FALD
Quantum Dot Yes
HDR Standard HDR10 Support
Color Gamut sRGB
Inputs 2 × DisplayPort 1.4
1 × HDMI 2.0
DisplayPort 1.4
HDMI 2.0
DisplayPort 1.4
HDMI 2.0
Price $1999 TBA TBA
Availability Present 2H 2018?

Furthermore, Asus’ ROG Swift PG27UQ also had a rather insightful channel for updates on their ROG forums, so there's some insight into the panel-related firmware troubles they've been having.

How We Got Here: Modern Gaming Monitors and G-Sync HDR

One of the more interesting aspects about the PG27UQ is about its headlining features. The 3840 x 2160 ‘4K’ resolution and 144Hz refresh rate are very much in the mix, and so is the monitor being not just G-Sync but G-Sync HDR. Then there is the HDR aspect, with the IPS-type panel that has localized backlighting and a quantum dot film. G-Sync HDR means both a premium tier of HDR monitor, as well as the new generation of G-Sync that works with high dynamic range gaming.

Altogether, the explanation isn’t very succinct for gamers, especially compared to a non-HDR gaming monitor, and it has all to do with the vast amount of moving parts involved in consumer monitor features, something more thoroughly covered by Brett. For some context, recent display trends include

  • Higher resolutions (e.g. 1440p, 4K, 8K)
  • Higher refresh rates (e.g. 120Hz, 165Hz, 240Hz)
  • Variable refresh rate (VRR) (e.g. G-Sync, FreeSync)
  • Panel size, pixel density, curved and/or ultrawide formats
  • Better panel technology (e.g. VA, IPS-type, OLED)
  • Color bit depth
  • Color compression (e.g. chroma subsampling)
  • Other high dynamic range (HDR) relevant functions for better brightness/contrast ratios and color space coverage, such as local dimming/backlighting and quantum dot films

These features obviously overlap, and much of their recent developments are not so much ‘new’ as they are now ‘reasonably affordable’ to the broader public. For a professional class price, monitors for professional visualization have offered many of the same specifications. And most elements are ultimately limited by PC game support, even uncapped refresh rates and 4K+ resolutions. This is, of course, not including connection standards, design (i.e. bezels and thinness), or gaming monitor features (e.g. ULMB). All these bits, and more, are served up to consumers in a bevy of numbers and brands.

Why does all of this matter? All of these points are points of discussion with the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ, and especially to G-Sync HDR at the heart of this display. Gaming monitors are moving beyond resolution and refresh rate in their feature sets, especially as games start to support HDR technologies (i.e. HDR10, Dolby Vision, FreeSync 2 tone-mapping). To implement those overlapping features, much more has to do with the panel rather than the VRR hardware/specification, which has become the de facto identifier of a modern gaming monitor. The goal is no longer summarized by ‘faster frames filled with more pixels’ and becomes more difficult to communicate, let alone market, to consumers. And this has much to do with where G-Sync (and VRR) started and what it is now aspiring to be.

From G-Sync Variable Refresh To G-Sync HDR Gaming Experience
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  • imaheadcase - Tuesday, October 2, 2018 - link

    3840x1600 is the dell i mean.
  • Impulses - Tuesday, October 2, 2018 - link

    The Acer Predator 32" has a similar panel as that BenQ and adds G-Sync tho still at a max 60Hz, not as well calibrated out of the box (and with a worse stand and controls) but it has dropped in price a couple times to the same as the BenQ... I've been cross shopping them for a while because 2 grand for a display whose features I may or may not be able to leverage in the next 3 years seems dubious.

    I wanted to go 32" too because the 27" 1440p doesn't seem like enough of a jump from my 24" 1920x1200 (being 16:10 it's nearly as tall as the 16:9 27"erd), and I had three of those which we occasionally used in Eyefinity mode (making a ~40" display). I've looked at 40-43" displays but they're all lacking compared to the smaller stuff (newer ones are all VA too, mostly Phillips and one Dell).

    I use my PC for photo editing as much as PC gaming but I'm not a pro so a decent IPS screen that I can calibrate reasonably well would satisfy my photo needs.
  • Fallen Kell - Tuesday, October 2, 2018 - link

    It is "almost" perfect. It is missing one of the most important things, HDMI 2.1, which has the bandwidth to actually feed the panel with what it is capable of doing (i.e. 4k HDR 4:4:4 120Hz). But we don't have that because this monitor was actually designed 3 years ago and only now finally coming to market, 6 months after HDMI 2.1 was released.
  • lilkwarrior - Monday, October 8, 2018 - link

    HDMI 2.1 certification is still not done; it would not have been able to call itself a HDMI 2.1 till probably late this year or next year.
  • imaheadcase - Tuesday, October 2, 2018 - link

    The 35 inch one has been canceled fyi. Asus rep told me when inquired about it just a week ago, unless in a week something has changed. Reason being panel is not perfect yet to mass produce.

    That said, its not a big loss, even if disappointing. Because HDR is silly tech so you can skip this generation
  • EAlbaek - Tuesday, October 2, 2018 - link

    I bought one of these, just as they came out. Amazing display performance, but the in-built fan to cool the G-Sync HDR-module killed it for me.

    It's one of those noisy 40mm fans, which were otherwise banned from PC setups over a decade ago. It made more noise than the entirety of the rest of my 1080 Ti-SLI system combined. Like a wasp was loose in my room all the time. Completely unbearable to listen to.

    I tried to return the monitor as RMA, as I thought that couldn't be right. But it could, said the retailer. At which point I chose to simply return the unit.

    In my case, these things will have to wait, till nVidia makes a new G-Sync HDR module, which doesn't require active cooling. Plain and simple. I'm sort of guessing that'll fall in line with the availability of micro-LED displays. Which will hopefully also be much cheaper, than the ridiculously expensive FALD-panels in these monitors.
  • imaheadcase - Tuesday, October 2, 2018 - link

    Can't you just replace the fan yourself? I read around the time of release someone simply removed fan and put own silent version on it.
  • EAlbaek - Tuesday, October 2, 2018 - link

    No idea - I shouldn't have to void the warranty on my $2000 monitor, to replace a 40mm fan.
  • madwolfa - Tuesday, October 2, 2018 - link

    Is that G-Sync HDR that requires active cooling or FALD array?
  • EAlbaek - Tuesday, October 2, 2018 - link

    It's the G-Sync HDR chip, apparantly.

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