AOC PD27

Author: Adam Simmons
Date published: December 22nd 2020

 

Introduction

Many monitors are now pushing towards high refresh rates, bringing advantages in terms of reduced perceived blur and improved ‘connected feel’. Something that can be particularly attractive for gamers. The AOC PD27, a Porsche Design model belonging to the AGON series, brings together a generous 240Hz refresh rate with a 2560 x 1440 (WQHD) resolution. Adaptive-Sync, including AMD FreeSync Premium Pro, is also supported alongside VESA DisplayHDR 400. The monitor certainly looks fast on paper and offers an inspired design, but we like to see how it performs in our usual suite of ‘real world’ tests.

Specifications

The monitor is based on a 27” Samsung SVA (‘Super’ Vertical Alignment) panel with 1000R (relatively steep) curve. A 240Hz refresh rate and 2560 x 1440 (WQHD) resolution is supported, alongside true 8-bit colour. A 0.5 ms MPRT response time is specified officially, whilst it has been confirmed to us the grey to grey specification would be 1ms. You shouldn’t pay too much attention to these figures, however. Some of the key ‘talking points’ for this monitor have been highlighted in blue below, for your reading convenience.

Screen size: 27 inches

Panel: TPV TPM270WQ1-DP03 [Samsung panel with custom backlight] SVA (‘Super’ Vertical Alignment) LCD

Native resolution: 2560 x 1440

Typical maximum brightness: 550 cd/m²

Colour support: 16.7 million (8-bits per subpixel without dithering)*

Response time (G2G): 1ms (0.5ms MPRT)

Refresh rate: 240Hz (variable, with Adaptive-Sync)

Weight: 8.9kg

Contrast ratio: 2500:1

Viewing angle: 178º horizontal, 178º vertical

Power consumption: 52W

Backlight: WLED (White Light Emitting Diode)

Typical price as reviewed: £720 ($800 USD)


*10-bit can be selected in the graphics driver at 200Hz or below when using DP and running at the native resolution. 10-bit and 12-bit can be selected at 60Hz when using HDMI at the native resolution. The panel used is only an 8-bit panel, but the monitor’s scaler can add a dithering stage to facilitate work with higher bit depth content.

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AOC PD27


Features and aesthetics

The monitor is designed by the Porsche Design studio, with a striking design that aims to act as the centrepiece to the desk. A large part of this design is the shiny machined metal stand, a sculpture in itself that’s inspired by a racing car roll cage. The bottom bezel is thick (~27mm or 1.06 inches) matte plastic with a brushed texture. There’s a central shiny silver-coloured Porsche Design logo in a broad font that fits the overall aesthetic. For a bit of extra flair, a ‘Logo Projector’ is included which projects either a Porsche Design or AGON logo onto the desk beneath the bottom bezel. A small switch next to the projector element itself allows you to select the logo. There’s also a row of RGB LEDs, 48 by our count, which form part of the ‘LightFX’ system. Both lighting features can be configured individually or disabled if you prefer. The top and side bezels are dual-stage, with a reasonably slender panel border that’s flush with the rest of the screen. Plus a slender hard plastic outer component. Including both elements, the bezels are ~7.5mm (0.30 inches) thick. The main feature from the front, especially when you’re actually using the monitor, is the screen itself. This has a light matte anti-glare finish and 1000R curve, with both aspects explored deeper into the review.

A premium design

The shiny stand

All lit up

Lighting features

Top-down view of the curve

The OSD (On Screen Display) can be controlled by a joystick at the rear of the screen, towards the right side as viewed from the front. Or using the included wireless gaming keypad. A small but bright white power LED faces forwards towards the bottom right, glowing orange when the monitor enters a low power state. Both control methods, the menu system and the lighting features (Logo Projector plus LightFX) are covered in the video below.

Gaming remote (front)

Gaming remote (rear)



From the side the screen is reasonably slender at thinnest point (~12mm), thicker lower down and in particular centrally where it lumps out more noticeably. This isn’t an angle we often see monitors from when they’re placed on the desk up near a wall. Nonetheless, it’s from this angle and indeed the rear where the inspiration for the stand becomes readily apparent – lots of shiny metal tubes making this a definite design feature. The stand isn’t just designed for the looks, it also offers tilt (4° forwards, 21.5° backwards), swivel (15° left, 15° right) and height adjustment (150mm or 5.91 inches). As an integral part of the design of the monitor, the stand is not designed to be replaced by an alternative. As such, there is no provision for VESA mounting. At lowest stand height the bottom of the screen sits ~70mm (2.76 inches) above the desk surface. The top of the screen sits ~440mm (17.32 inches) above the desk. The total depth of the monitor including stand is ~322mm (12.68 inches) with the centre of the screen ~100mm back from the front edge of the stand. So it’s a rather deep stand design due to the protruding legs, which make quite a visual statement on the desk. But the screen itself sits a bit further back.

The side view

The rear of the monitor is largely matte black plastic, again with the tubular metal stand featuring prominently. There are a few glossy plastic engraved logos, ‘PD’ (Porsche Design) to the left and ‘AGON by AOC’ to the right. The stand attachment point houses 19 additional RGB LEDs for the LightFX lighting feature explored in the OSD video earlier. The OSD joystick is found to the left side and a K-Slot towards the bottom right. The ports face downwards and include; DC power input (external ‘power brick’), 2 USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports (yellow one supports fast charging), 2 USB 3.0 ports, a 3.5mm microphone jack, a 3.5mm headphone jack, 2 HDMI 2.0 ports, 2 DP 1.4 ports and a second 3.5mm microphone jack. 2 x 5W DTS Sound speakers are also integrated into the monitor, up-firing and located near the top. These deliver decent sound output, very much above average for integrated monitor speakers. There are various settings you can configure in the ‘Audio’ section of the OSD including equalizer customisation if you like that sort of thing. We found the best balance by using ‘DTSSound = Rock’ and ‘TruVolumeHD = On’, but everyone will have their own sweet spot. This provided sound that had decent punchiness to the bass elements without poor clarity or clear much distortion. Whilst these won’t replace a decent set of standalone speakers or headphones (especially for directionality when gaming), they’re certainly very useable.

The rear

LightFX at the rear

Ports at the left

Ports at the right

The full capability of the monitor including 2560 x 1440 @240z plus HDR and Adaptive-Sync can be leveraged via DP 1.4. This includes AMD FreeSync and Nvidia’s ‘G-SYNC Compatible Mode’. HDMI 2.0 is limited to 144Hz and supports AMD FreeSync but not Nvidia’s ‘G-SYNC Compatible Mode’. Standard accessories include; a power cable and adaptor, DP cable, HDMI cable and USB cable but may vary by region. The first two images below show the refresh rates supported when running in the 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) resolution using DP. The first list is identical via HDMI, whereas for the second list HDMI is limited to 144Hz. The third image shows the refresh rates available in the native 2560 x 1440 (WQHD) resolution via DP, with 144Hz the maximum using HDMI. The fourth image shows the ‘4k x 2k, 3840 x 2160’ downsampling mode that’s available when using HDMI. This is potentially useful for games consoles that don’t support a 2560 x 1440 signal but would accept a 3840 x 2160 signal.

Refresh rates Full HD 1

Refresh rates Full HD 2

Refresh rates WQHD

'4K' downsampling

If you’re intending to use the monitor with the PS5 or Xbox Series X/S, be aware that a small settings tweak may be required to ensure 120Hz is selectable. Details can be found in this article.


Calibration

Subpixel layout and screen surface

The image below is a macro photograph taken on Notepad with ClearType disabled. The letters ‘PCM’ are typed out to help highlight any potential text rendering issues related to unusual subpixel structure, whilst the white space more clearly shows the actual subpixel layout alongside a rough indication of screen surface. This model employs a light matte anti-glare screen surface with reasonably light surface texture. This gives decent glare handling without affecting clarity or vibrancy potential as much as stronger matte screen surfaces. The light screen surface provides less of a layered appearance in front of the image than ‘stronger’ matte screen surfaces. The reasonably light surface texture provides a light graininess to the image when observing brighter content, or a ‘sandiness’ if you prefer. This isn’t a ‘heavy’ or ‘smeary’ graininess, so most users won’t find it bothersome and many won’t even notice it.

Subpixel layout

As shown above, the monitor uses the standard RGB (Red, Green and Blue) stripe subpixel layout. This is the default expected by modern operating systems such as Microsoft Windows and Apple MacOS. You needn’t worry about text fringing from non-standard subpixel layouts as a Mac user and don’t need to run ClearType as a Windows user. You may still wish to run through the ClearType wizard and adjust according to preferences, however. The subpixels are slightly squat as is fairly typical for Samsung SVA panels, with relatively thick vertical gaps between subpixels. This can lead to or exacerbate issues such as static ‘interlace pattern artifacts’, something we explore shortly. It can also make some text or fine edges appear just a touch softer, but only to a minor degree. The subpixels do not show partial illumination as some VA models do, which would lead to more obvious text and fine-edge clarity issues. The subpixel layout and arrangement is therefore considered normal and we had no major subpixel-related concerns with respect to sharpness or text clarity on this model.

Testing the presets

The monitor includes a variety of ‘Game Mode’ presets; ‘FPS’, ‘RTS’, ‘Racing’, ‘Gamer 1’, ‘Gamer 2’ and ‘Gamer 3’. These change various settings in the OSD and lock off access to certain settings. The default ‘Overdrive’ setting is different depending on setting, as usual none of these presets give you any edge in responsiveness outside of what you could achieve by manually changing this setting. The ‘FPS’, ‘RTS’ and ‘Racing’ modes block off the ‘Color Setup’ menu and ‘Luminance’ menu, which means brightness is locked at a high level and colour channels can’t be adjusted. Whilst the numbered ‘Gamer’ presets allow access to the ‘Luminance’ menu, the ‘Color Setup’ menu remains greyed out and odd changes are made to colour reproduction which can’t be counteracted. We explore the ‘Game Mode’ presets briefly in the OSD video, but in this section we’ll be focusing on manual adjustment to various settings instead.

The table below includes white point and gamma readings taken using a Datacolor SpyderX Elite colorimeter, alongside general observations. Our test system runs Windows 10 with an Nvidia RTX 3090 connected using the supplied DP cable. Additional testing was performed using an AMD Radeon RX 580 and using HDMI, although observations for this table didn’t vary significantly between GPUs or inputs. The monitor was left to run for over 2 hours before readings were taken and observations were made. No additional monitor drivers or ICC profiles were specifically loaded for the review. Aside from for our ‘Test Settings’, where various adjustments were made, assume factory defaults were used. The refresh rate was set to 240Hz in Windows, unless stated otherwise. When viewing the figures in this table, note that for most PC users ‘6500K’ for white point and ‘2.2’ for gamma are good targets to aim for. Individual targets depend on individual uses, tastes and the lighting environment, however.

Monitor Settings Gamma (central average) White point (kelvins) Notes
Gamma1 (Factory Defaults) 2.3 6109K The image is fairly vibrant with a bit of a warm tint. As usual for a VA panel there are some perceived gamma shifts, with saturation losses towards the bottom and sides of the screen. The gamma creeps above ‘2.2’, giving extra depth to some shades but nothing extreme.
Gamma2 2.1 6254K As above but gamma reduced somewhat, with less depth than ideal in places and taking a vit of vibrancy away as a result.
Gamma3 2.5 6238K As factory defaults with increased gamma. Quite a cinematic look to things due tot his, too much depth with some dark details much more heavily masked than intended.
Gamma1 (60Hz) 2.2 6175K Similar to factory defaults, closer adherence to ‘2.2’ gamma curve so some mid-tones are raised just a bit.
Color Temp. User 2.3 6877K As factory defaults but brighter with a cool tint.
Color Temp. sRGB 2.3 6303K An sRGB emulation mode, restricting the colour gamut so it corresponds more closely with sRGB. The image appears less saturated as a result and brightness is locked to a rather bright level. The gamma is too low at the low end (darker shades), revealing too much unintended detail.
LowBlue Mode = Multimedia 2.3 5431K A mild to moderate Low Blue Light (LBL) setting. The blue channel is reduced a fair bit from default, reducing blue light emission from the monitor and providing a warm look to the image. The green channel remains strong, imparting a green tint to the image. Your eyes adjust to this to a degree.
LowBlue Mode = Internet 2.3 4637K As above but significantly more effective. A strong LBL setting, with the green tint more noticeable due to the strength of the green channel. Your eyes again adjust over time, to an extent.
LowBlue Mode = Office 2.3 4602K As above, only very marginally weakened blue channel.
LowBlue Mode = Reading 2.3 4548K As above with a further slight reduction in the blue channel.
Test Settings (see below) 2.3 6496K A fairly vibrant and varied image, well balanced overall. Slight extra depth in places due to gamma handling, but nothing severe.

Out of the box the monitor gave an image that was a touch warm and had just a little extra depth in places due to the gamma handling. Nothing extreme or that we felt warranted correction for the purposes of our testing. Setting the monitor to 60Hz provided stronger adherence to the ‘2.2’ curve, brightening up some shades just a little. The first image shows the gamma curve under our ‘Test Settings’, which is very similar to the factory default gamma tracking. The second image shows results with the monitor set to 60Hz. Although not tested here, intermediate refresh rates sat some way between these two in terms of gamma tracking.

Gamma 'Test Settings'

Gamma 'Test Settings'

Gamma 60Hz

Gamma 60Hz

Given the intended uses for monitor, inter-unit variation and decent enough performance following OSD tweaking alone we will not be using any ICC profiles for this review or including any measurements or graphs using them. We wouldn’t recommend using them unless created for your specific unit using your own calibration device. But we appreciate some users still like to use profiles and some aspects such as gamut mapping for colour-aware applications can be useful. You can download our ICC profile for this model, which was created using our ‘Test Settings’ as a base. Note again that this ICC profile is not used in the review.

The monitor also includes ‘LowBlue Mode’ Low Blue Light (LBL) settings, found in the ‘Color Setup’ section of the OSD. It would be nice if these could be easily switched or disabled using a shortcut key either with the OSD joystick or remote, but once you’re used to their location in the menu system it’s pretty easy to cycle through or disable the setting. The ‘Reading’ mode was the most effective setting, offering a significant reduction in blue light output from the screen. Reducing brightness enhances the effect further. Reducing exposure to blue light is particularly important in the hours leading up to sleep as blue light affects sleep hormones. Increasing alertness and making it more difficult for the body to shut off. As with many LBL settings a relatively strong green channel is maintained when using these settings. This is to counter the loss of contrast that would occur with a reduction in green channel. The green tint that resulted was not as extreme as on some models we’ve come across and your eyes adjust a bit over time. We used the ‘Reading’ setting with reduced brightness for our own viewing pleasure in the evenings, although not for specific testing beyond that involving this particular setting.

Test Settings

For our ‘Test Settings’ we reduced brightness significantly and made minor colour channel adjustments. It’s important to note that individual units and preferences vary, so these settings are just a suggestion that won’t be optimal in all cases. Assume any setting not mentioned, including ‘Contrast’ and ‘Gamma’, was left at default. We’ve also included the refresh rate used in Windows and preferred ‘Overdrive’ setting used for most of the review, just for reference. These settings only apply to SDR, HDR has separate settings associated with it (is far more restrictive) and is explored in the relevant section of the review.


Color Temp. = User

R= 50

G= 50

B= 48

Brightness= 20 (according to preferences and lighting)

Overdrive= Medium

Adaptive-Sync= On

Refresh rate (Windows setting)= 240Hz


Contrast and brightness

Contrast ratios

An X-Rite i1Display Pro was used to measure the luminance of white and black using various settings on the monitor, including those found in the calibration section. From these values, static contrast ratios were calculated. The table below shows these results, with blue highlights indicating the results with HDR active and under our ‘Test Settings’. Black highlights indicate the highest white luminance, lowest black luminance and highest contrast ratio recorded (MBR deactivated). Assume any setting not mentioned was left at default, with the exceptions already noted here or in the calibration section.


*HDR measurements were made using this YouTube HDR brightness test video, running full screen at ‘1440p HDR’ on Google Chrome. The maximum reading from the smallest patch size (measurement area) that comfortably covered the entire sensor area and colorimeter housing was used for the white luminance measurement, which was ‘4% of all pixels’ in this case. The black luminance was taken at the same point of the video with the colorimeter offset to the side of the white test patch, equidistant between the test patch and edge of the monitor bezel.

The average static contrast with only brightness adjusted was 3008:1, which is good and in line with the panel specifications. The peak contrast ratio recorded under SDR was 3300:1, with all colour channels set to neutral (Color Temp. = User) at full brightness. We recorded 2850:1 following the adjustments made to our ‘Test Settings’, which is quite respectable. The monitor does not provide local dimming and therefore provides no contrast advantage under HDR. The slightly higher contrast recorded with HDR active is simply due to the adjusted measurement point used for measure black point. Our unit was dimmer at that point for uniformity reasons. We measured up to 556 cd/m² with HDR active in this test. That’s marginally higher than the maximum white luminance recorded under SDR, 528 cd/m² and pretty bright although not exceptionally bright by HDR standards. The minimum white luminance recorded without MBR active was 82 cd/m², reasonably low although a bit higher than sensitive users might like. Considering these SDR values, this gives a luminance adjustment range of 446 cd/m². Although not covered in the table, note that setting MBR to ‘15’ gave a similar brightness to our ‘Test Settings’ (~160 – 170 cd/m²).

The monitor includes a Dynamic Contrast setting called ‘DCR’ (Dynamic Contrast Ratio). This allowed the backlight to adjust, at a fairly gradual pace, to changes in scene brightness. It tended to provide rather high brightness for mixed scenes even where there were plenty of dark elements. But sometimes provided a dimmer luminance than you might expect if dark elements are dominant but there are still plenty of smaller bright elements on the screen. As usual this setting is a compromise and can’t compensate for mixed bright and dark on the screen, with the entire backlight shifting at once rather than any local dimming being available. If you enable the ‘DCR’ before an HDR signal is received then you’ll get a Dynamic Contrast effect under HDR. But the monitor reacts too gradually to changes in scene brightness and the luminance is dragged down too much for mixed scenes with plenty of bright content. It pays no attention to HDR metadata so lacks the sort of precision we like to see for such a setting under HDR. It’s a heavily compromised solution really that often makes inappropriate adjustments. Being able to enable this with HDR is more of a bug than a feature as far as we’re concerned, the ‘Luminance’ section of the OSD which contains the setting is greyed out under HDR.

PWM (Pulse Width Modulation)

The PD27 does not use PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) to regulate backlight brightness at any level. Instead, DC (Direct Current) is used to moderate brightness. The backlight is therefore considered ‘flicker-free’, which will come as welcome news to those sensitive to flickering or worried about side-effects from PWM usage. The exception to this is with ‘MBR’ active, a strobe backlight setting which causes the backlight to flicker at a frequency matching the refresh rate of the display.

Luminance uniformity

Whilst observing a black background in a dark room, using our ‘Test Settings’, we noticed some backlight bleed and clouding, particularly towards the bottom of the screen. It’s important to remember that individual units vary when it comes to all aspects of uniformity, including backlight bleed and clouding. The following image was taken a few metres back to eliminate ‘VA glow’. This is a silverish to purple glow that appears towards the edges, particularly near the bottom of the screen from a normal viewing position. This ‘VA glow’ blooms out more noticeably from sharper angles, as demonstrated in the viewing angles video later on.

Monitor displaying black in a dark room

The SpyderX Elite was used to assess the uniformity of lighter shades, represented by 9 equally spaced white quadrants running from the top left to bottom right of the screen. The table below shows the luminance recorded at each quadrant as well as the percentage deviation between each quadrant and the brightest recorded point.

Luminance uniformity table

Luminance uniformity table

The luminance uniformity was variable. The maximum luminance was recorded at ‘quadrant 1’ towards the top left of the screen (169.8 cd/m²). The greatest deviation from this occurred at ‘quadrant 9’ towards the bottom left (137.6 cd/m², which is 19% dimmer). The average deviation between each quadrant and the brightest recorded point was 10%, which is moderate. Note that individual units vary when it comes to uniformity and you can expect further deviation beyond the points measured. The contour map below shows these deviations graphically, with darker greys representing lower luminance (greater deviation from brightest point) than lighter greys. The percentage deviation between each quadrant and the brightest point recorded is also given.

Luminance uniformity map

Luminance uniformity map

The SpyderX Elite was also used to analyse variation in the colour temperature (white point) for the same 9 quadrants. The deviation between each quadrant and the quadrant closest to the 6500K (D65) daylight white point target was analysed and a DeltaE value assigned. Darker shades are also used on this map to represent greater deviation from 6500K. A DeltaE >3 represents significant deviation that may be readily noticed by eye.

Colour temperature uniformity map

Colour temperature uniformity map

Results here were reasonable overall, with borderline significant deviation recorded towards the bottom right (DeltaE 3.0) but no significant deviations elsewhere. Note again that individual units vary when it comes to uniformity and that you can expect deviation beyond the measured points. Also be aware that there are some perceived deviations in both brightness and colour temperature that are typical on VA panels and aren’t reflected by these readings. In addition to the quantitative testing above, we performed a subjective assessment of the uniformity of a variety of ‘medium’ shades, including 50% grey. Some monitors exhibit uniformity issues such as splotches or striations when viewing screen fills of such shades, giving an inconsistent appearance that some users refer to as ‘DSE’ (‘Dirty Screen Effect’). VA models are particularly prone to this. We observed some very faint striations and slight patchiness in some regions of the screen. But there were no obvious issues such as heavy patchiness or clear striations.

Contrast in games and movies

On Battlefield V the monitor provided a strong contrast performance overall. The strong static contrast provided a good atmosphere to darker scenes, including dimly lit building interiors and dark exterior locations. Further down the screen in particular, from a normal viewing position, ‘VA glow’ could be observed. A bloom which lightened up darker shades so they lacked the sort of depth they had elsewhere on the screen. This was at a moderate level and quite within our expectations for a panel of this sort. It’s worth remembering that ‘VA glow’ can be brought out more strongly if you use a higher brightness, you’re sitting closer to the screen or you’re using a high brightness setting. We also noticed some ‘black crush’, albeit as little as we’ve seen on a VA model. This describes darker shades in the central region of the screen (or the region roughly in-line with your eyes) appearing darker than intended due to increased perceived gamma. So they blend into an almost black mass, with some subtle details appearing more blended than intended. Some shades appeared slightly darker than intended due to the slightly raised overall gamma of our unit, but this was subtle and didn’t impact the darkest shades. A little extra detail was observed towards the very side edges and bottom of the screen due to perceived gamma being reduced slightly there, but the effect was slight from our preferred viewing distance (~70cm). Significantly lower than the vertical shifts on TN models and indeed the shifts on some VA models. Brighter content stood out well against darker surroundings, with the screen surface imparting a slight but not ‘heavy’ graininess.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider provided a similar showcase of contrast, with a strong overall performance. There are plenty of dimly lit caves, passageways, tombs and suchlike on this title illuminated by just a few point sources of light. The strong static contrast helped deliver a good atmosphere to such scenes. There was again ‘VA glow’ lower down the screen in particular, eating away at the atmosphere in affected regions. This was most noticeable under dim room lighting. And there was again some ‘black crush’, but about as little as we’ve observed on a VA model. A touch of extra detail was revealed towards the extreme edges and bottom of the screen, but this was pretty constrained. We still found the overall atmosphere and representation of these ‘high contrast’ environments on the game pleasing, much more so than on IPS-type or TN alternatives. The screen surface gave a bit of a grainy look to brighter content, but nothing extreme or that most would readily notice.

We also made observations on the film Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. There are plenty of high-contrast scenes on this title, with bright light from explosions, lightsabers and energy pulses lighting up otherwise dim locations. ‘VA glow’ and ‘black crush’ was again present. And at ~3000:1 static contrast, you certainly don’t get a deep inkiness to the darkest shades, especially if viewed in a dim room. But the overall atmosphere was still much more pleasing than many LCDs would provide, in a wide variety of lighting conditions. The slight extra detail revealed towards the bottom and extreme side edges of the screen was not problematic in our view, fairly minor really. On a more general level, this is important when considering heavily compressed streamed content. They contain ‘compression artifacts’ which can give a clear ‘banded’ or ‘blocky’ appearance if they aren’t well-masked by the monitor. In this case they appeared appropriately quite well blended from our preferred viewing position. They can be brought out more strongly depending if you’re sitting closer to the screen or viewing at an angle as both things reduce perceived gamma further in affected regions.

Lagom contrast tests

The Lagom tests for contrast allow specific weaknesses in contrast performance to be identified. The following observations were made.

  • The contrast gradients were displayed well overall, with distinct brightness steps in most cases. The darkest blue and red bands blended into the background slightly too much.
  • Performance on the black level test was reasonable. The first few blocks blended into the background well, normal behaviour for a monitor tracking the ‘2.2’ gamma curve correctly. The third and fourth blocks were a bit less distinct than they could be, due primarily to ‘black crush’ described previously. These blocks were much more clearly visible if viewed from an angle or displayed near the bottom of the screen, due to the aforementioned perceived gamma shifts. The tone of the grey shifted readily with even slight movement, giving what we refer to as an ‘oil slick’ effect. We didn’t observe obvious dithering.
  • Performance on the white saturation was good with all patterns visible against the background. The final pattern was masked slightly by the graininess of the screen surface, but was still faintly visible.
  • The greyscale gradient appeared smooth without obvious banding or dithering.

Colour reproduction

Colour gamut

The AOC PD27’s colour gamut (red triangle) was compared with the sRGB (green triangle) and DCI-P3 (blue triangle) reference colour spaces using our ‘Test Settings’, as shown below. The gamut fully covers sRGB with some extension beyond, particularly towards the red and green corners. We measured 89% DCI-P3 coverage and although not shown in the graphic, 83% Adobe RGB coverage. This gives the monitor the potential to output all shades within the sRGB colour space, with some extra vibrancy and saturation in places.

Colour gamut 'Test Settings'

Colour gamut 'Test Settings'

The monitor also offers an sRGB emulation setting – setting the ‘Color Temp.’ to ‘sRGB’ in the ‘Color Setup’ section of the OSD. As explored previously, you can’t adjust brightness and it’s locked to a high level. Various other settings are also inaccessible, including ‘Gamma’ and colour channels. The colour gamut using this setting is shown below, with only very slight under-coverage (99%) but some over-coverage in the red region. Whilst it brings things closer to the sRGB colour space than native, the overextension and setting restrictions (including locked high brightness) will make it impractical for most users. To maximise colour accuracy within the sRGB colour space, for colour-managed workflows, full calibration and profiling with a colorimeter or similar device using the full native gamut is recommended. You may try the ICC profile featured in the calibration section which includes gamut mapping for colour-aware applications, but best results are always obtained by calibrating your own unit with your own hardware.

Colour gamut 'sRGB'

Colour gamut 'sRGB'

Instead of setting ‘Color Temp.’ to ‘sRGB’ and putting up with the restrictions associated with that, AMD users can activate a more flexible sRGB emulation setting with superior sRGB coverage and flexibility. This is done by opening ‘AMD Radeon Software’, clicking ‘Settings’ (cog icon towards top right) and clicking on ‘Display’. You should then ensure that the ‘Custom Color’ slider to the right is set to ‘Enabled’ and ‘Color Temperature Control’ set to ‘Disabled’. It may appear to be set this way by default, but the native rather than restricted gamut is likely in play. If that’s the case, simply switch the ‘Color Temperature Control’ slider to ‘Enabled’ then back to ‘Disabled’ to leverage the sRGB emulation behaviour. This setting is shown in the image below.

AMD Color Temperature Control disabled

The gamut below shows results using our ‘Test Settings’ with this driver tweak applied. The colour gamut covers 99% sRGB with a bit of extension beyond in the red to blue region. Slightly less over-extension compared to the sRGB emulation setting of the monitor. This is a useful setting if you’re an AMD user and wish to gain quite close tracking of the sRGB gamut without profiling, including in applications that aren’t colour-managed. And you don’t wish to put up with restrictions associated with the monitor’s sRGB emulation setting.

Colour gamut AMD 'CTC disabled' setting

Colour gamut AMD 'CTC disabled' setting


Colour in games and movies

On Battlefield V the monitor provided fairly vibrant colour output. The extension of the colour gamut beyond sRGB helped inject a bit of this extra vibrancy. Content like this (games running in SDR) is designed with the sRGB colour space in mind and any extension beyond that provides extra saturation and vibrancy. This is very different to the effect you get from a digital saturation boost, such as using the ‘GameColor’ setting in the OSD. These digital saturation enhancements simply pull shades closer to the edge of the gamut, without expanding the gamut itself. So the saturation of the most saturated shades is not improved, whilst less saturated shades are crushed into them. You get a loss of shade variety by doing this. The environments on this game appeared somewhat more vivid than intended, for example the red elements of some woody and earthy browns were brought out too strongly. And the yellowish elements of some yellowish greens as well. Vibrant elements such as roaring orange and yellow fires looked quite vibrant. The colour gamut is by no means extreme on this model, so this extra saturation wasn’t as strong as it is on some models. As typical for a VA panel there were some saturation losses further down the screen and near the edges due to perceived gamma being reduced there. This made some shades appear more muted than intended, in contrast to the central region where they tended to be a bit too saturated.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider told a similar story, with a fairly vibrant and varied look to things. The environments showcased extra saturation, but this was not extreme. There were some fairly lush deep greens alongside some more muted shades. The yellows of yellowish greens were brought out too strongly and some reddish browns appeared a bit too red. Lara’s skin appeared a bit too tanned as a result of this extra saturation, but only if viewed quite centrally. Her skin appeared more as it should lower down the screen and towards the sides, if not a bit undersaturated. These sort of shifts were as low as we’ve seen from a VA panel, though, and significantly lower than the vertical shifts of TN panels. The idea of colour consistency was further explored using various episodes of the TV series Futurama. This has large areas of individual shade and is therefore an unforgiving test for colour consistency. The fairly vibrant output from the display was reflected here with some quite eye-catching neon shades, such as neon pink and yellow. More muted pastel shades appeared somewhat oversaturated centrally, more accurate to slightly undersaturated towards the bottom and extreme side edges. These shifts in saturation were significantly lower than on TN models and improved compared to weaker VA performers as well. But the consistency certainly wasn’t up to the levels of your typical IPS-type display.

Shade representation using SpyderCHECKR 24

The image below shows a printed reference sheet of 24 ‘sRGB’ shades, included as part of the Datacolor SpyderCHECKR 24 package. The screen is displaying reference photographs of this printed sheet, in both the same order as printed (right side) and reverse order (left side). The camera is mounted slightly above centre so that the image is representative of what the eye sees from an ergonomically correct viewing position. This, coupled with the inclusion of a flipped version of the shade sheet, allows both accuracy and colour consistency to be visually assessed. Bracketed numbers in our analysis refer to shades on the printed sheet or right side of the screen if they’re ordered consecutively from top left to bottom right.

Note that there is always some disparity between how emissive objects (monitor) and non-emissive objects (printed sheet) appear. The representation of shades in this image depends on the camera and your own screen, it’s not designed to show exactly how the shades appear in person. It still helps demonstrate some of the relative differences between the original intended sRGB shade and what the monitor outputs, however. Full profiling and appropriate colour management on the application would provide a tighter match, our intention here is to show what can be expected in a non colour-managed environment.

SpyderCHECKR 24 'Test Settings'

The monitor displays most shades in a somewhat more vibrant and saturated way than is intended. This is mainly due to the extension in the colour gamut a fair bit beyond sRGB. The strongest saturation is observed when a shade is displayed further up the monitor, more directly in line with the camera (or your eyes, from an ergonomically correct viewing position). As observed in other testing earlier in the review, there are perceived gamma shifts on this model which cause saturation losses when observing content towards the bottom of the screen. And also towards the extreme side edges, but that can’t be assessed with the shade layout here. These saturation losses are much lower than the vertical shifts observed on TN models and indeed lower than some VA models. Light chocolate brown (24) appears with an overly strong red hue due to the colour gamut, more so when displayed towards the top vs. bottom of the screen. The red hue is not as readily observed by eye as it appears with the shade at the top of the screen in the photo, but is still stronger relative to the bottom and the printed sheet. The neighbouring shade, gamboge (24), appears with slightly too much of a saffron orange tint towards the top and too little of this towards the bottom. Medium orange (3) appears oversaturated with too much of a reddish quality when displayed further up and slightly undersaturated when displayed further down.

Black (21) is interesting to observe as it highlights some of the perceived gamma shifts. The photograph shown on the screen is of the actual printed sheet, which has a slight material texture to it. This is well-blended and barely visible when viewed on most of the screen, but it’s more visible lower down the screen (or towards the sides) due to the aforementioned perceived gamma shifts. Some shades appear quite a bit more vibrant on screen compared to the printed sheet, due primarily to the fairly generous colour gamut. Candy apple red (14) and dark lime green (18) are good examples. But the extra saturation and ‘neon look’ isn’t as extreme here as on models with an even more generous colour gamut. As explored earlier, the monitor includes an sRGB emulation mode. But it’s very limited in its practicality due to the brightness being locked at a high level (there’s also some remaining overextension in the gamut). The comparison between printed sheet and the screen is massively skewed and captured poorly if a high monitor brightness is used, so we won’t be including any photos using this setting and the SpyderCHECKR 24 test. As usual, we’d recommend profiling the monitor with your own colorimeter or spectrophotometer using the native gamut if you require the strongest level of colour accuracy.

Viewing angles

Lagom’s viewing angle tests help explore the idea of colour consistency and viewing angle performance. The following observations were made from a normal viewing position, eyes ~70cm from the screen. The shifts observed are more readily apparent if sitting closer and less apparent if sitting further away.

  • The purple block appeared a pinkish purple for most of the screen, with a stronger pink hue towards the bottom and extreme side edges and more of a violet hue centrally. The pinkish hue shifted readily along with head movement.
  • The red block appeared quite a vibrant red across most of the screen, somewhat less saturated and slightly pinkish lower down and near the side edges. The less saturated red elements shifted alongside head movement.
  • The green block appeared a saturated green chartreuse shade throughout, with a stronger yellow tint further down the screen. The yellow tint shifted alongside head movement.
  • The blue block appeared deep blue throughout.
  • The Lagom text appeared a blended grey with a slight green tint to the striping for the region of the screen in line with your eyes. Surrounding this it transitioned to a ‘dirty green’ and then to orange. Dark red striping was apparent peripherally, particularly towards the bottom corners of the screen. This shifted readily with head movement. There were no obvious bursts of vibrant orange, green or red as you’d see on a TN model. This indicates a moderate viewing angle dependency to the gamma curve of the monitor, characteristic of a VA panel. The photo below gives a rough idea of how the Lagom text test appeared.

Lagom Text Test

The following video shows the Lagom text test, a mixed desktop background, a game scene and dark desktop background from various viewing angles. For the mixed image and game scene you can see some shifts in colour and contrast. They’re most pronounced at steeper angles, although losses of saturation can be observed quite readily following gentler viewing position shifts. Especially horizontally. There is no ‘colour inversion’ as you’d observe on a TN model vertically and the shifts vertically are not as extreme. The final section of the video shows a dark desktop background and highlights the ‘VA glow’ mentioned earlier. This blooms out more noticeably from sharper viewing angles but is not as strong from centralised viewing angles.



Interlace pattern artifacts

On some monitors, particularly but not exclusively those with high refresh rates, interlace patterns can be seen during certain transitions. We refer to these as ‘interlace pattern artifacts’ but some users refer to them as ‘inversion artifacts’ and others as ‘scan lines’. They may appear as an interference pattern, mesh or interlaced lines which break up a given shade into a darker and lighter version of what is intended. They often catch the eye due to their dynamic nature, on models where they manifest themselves in this way. Alternatively, static interlace patterns may be seen with some shades appearing as faint horizontal or vertical bands of a slightly lighter and slightly darker version of the intended shade.

We observed static interlace patterns on the PD27, with some light to medium shades presented as alternating horizontal bands of a slightly lighter and darker version of the intended shade. They were most visible at 240Hz and somewhat fainter but still reasonably clear to us at 200Hz. By 165Hz they were quite well-blended, even more so at 144Hz and difficult to observe at 120Hz. Below that we did not notice them at all. They were still reasonably faint overall and aren’t something everyone would notice even at 240Hz, but if you’re sensitive to them they could become bothersome. We’ve seen reports of similar things on the Samsung Odyssey G7 models, with a similar panel used to this one. It’s not possible to capture static interlacing with a camera in a way that represents what the eye would see when looking at a monitor, but it can still be observed. The top image below shows the monitor displaying a turquoise block at 60Hz whilst the bottom image shows the same block at 240Hz. Notice the alternating horizontal bands of lighter and darker variant of the shade at 240Hz, absent at 60Hz.

Turquoise  block, 240Hz

Turquoise block, 240Hz

Turquoise  block, 60Hz

Turquoise block, 60Hz

We also observed dynamic interlace patterns, with some textures appearing to break up into a very fine polygonal mesh during movement. This was faint and difficult to spot, particularly at higher refresh rates – so it’s not something most users will find bothersome or necessarily notice at all. At lower refresh rates comfortably into the double digits, the mesh was more noticeable but still wasn’t as obnoxious as we’ve seen on some models that exhibit this sort of thing. As with the static interlace patterns, these artifacts are something we’re carefully tuned to after testing many monitors.

Responsiveness

Input lag

A small utility called SMTT 2.0 was used alongside a sensitive camera to analyse the latency of the PD27, with over 30 repeat readings taken to help maximise accuracy. Using this method, we calculated 4.01ms (~1 frame at 240Hz) of input lag. The input lag measured here is influenced by both the element you ‘see’ (pixel responsiveness) and the main element you ‘feel’ (signal delay). It indicates a low signal delay which most users should find acceptable. Note that we don’t have the means to accurately measure input lag with Adaptive-Sync active in a variable refresh rate environment or with HDR active in an HDR environment.

Perceived blur (pursuit photography)

Our article on responsiveness explores some of the key concepts related to monitor responsiveness. A key concept explored in the article is perceived blur. This is contributed to by both the pixel responsiveness of the monitor and the movement of your eyes as you track motion on the screen. Perceived blur due to eye movement is the dominant form of perceived blur observed on a modern monitor, but both factors play an important role. We also explore a technique called ‘pursuit photography’ in the article, using a moving camera to capture motion in a way that reflects both aspects of perceived blur. This contrasts with static photos or videos which only reflect weaknesses in pixel responsiveness.

The images below are pursuit photographs taken using the UFO Motion Test for ghosting, with the UFO moving across the screen from left to right at a frame rate matching the refresh rate of the display. The test is set to run at its default speed of 960 pixels per second, which is a practical speed for such photographs and sufficient to highlight any weaknesses. The monitor was tested at 60Hz (directly below), 144Hz, 200Hz and 240Hz. The main ‘Overdrive’ response time settings were tested; ‘Off’, ‘Weak’, ‘Medium’ and ‘Strong’. All rows of the UFO Motion Test were used, highlighting a range of pixel transitions between various shades. The final columns show some reference screens for comparison, where possible, using what we deem to be their optimal pixel response time settings. The first reference screen is the AOC C27G2(U), a typical performer as far as high refresh rate VA models go – but limited to 144Hz. The second reference is the Dell Alienware AW2521HF, a responsive 240Hz IPS model.

Perceived blur, 60Hz

At 60Hz, shown above, the UFO appears relatively broad and lacking clear internal detailing. This reflects a significant degree of perceived blur due to eye movement and is tied to the 60Hz refresh rate. There are also varying amounts of trailing behind the UFOs due to some weaknesses in pixel responsiveness. The trailing behind the object appears quite bold using the ‘Off’ or ‘Weak’ setting, in particular for the dark background (top row) and a lesser extent medium background (middle row). The pixel responses are much snappier for the light background (bottom row). The ‘Medium’ setting is nicely tuned at 60Hz, offering just some ‘light powdery’ trailing for the dark background and nothing to speak of elsewhere. There’s a little overshoot (inverse ghosting) in places as well, but nothing that really stands out. The ‘Strong’ setting makes this overshoot more visible, a clearer but still not extreme bright ‘halo’ being visible behind the UFO. Particularly for the medium background. We deem ‘Medium’ optimal at a static 60Hz refresh rate, with performance here better than the VA reference and close to the IPS reference but with lower overshoot. Note that if the monitor is running at ~60Hz in a variable refresh rate environment (Adaptive-Sync active), the tuning is quite different and acceleration levels are stronger than shown here. The ‘Weak’ setting could be more appealing to some due to lower overshoot, but ‘Medium’ might work better for others depending on overshoot tolerance. The pursuit photographs below show how things looked with refresh rate bumped up significantly, to 144Hz.

Perceived blur, 144Hz

At 144Hz, shown above, the UFO now appears significantly narrower with sharper focus. There are again varying degrees of trailing behind the object. Because the pixel response requirements for an optimal performance have been raised significantly, weaknesses in pixel response stand out in a clearer way now. The dark background shows ‘smeary’ trailing whilst the medium background highlights ‘heavy powdery’ trailing in most cases. The monitor does quite well for the panel type using the ‘Medium’ setting and comfortably outperforms the VA reference screen. It isn’t as ‘clean’ in its performance as the fast IPS reference, but for the medium and light backgrounds is fairly competitive with that. The ‘Strong’ setting gets rid of any conventional trailing but replaces it with overshoot – this is bright and colourful ‘halo’ trailing that we found quite eye-catching in practice. Depending on overshoot tolerance some users may find this setting acceptable, but we deem ‘Medium’ optimal here. The pursuit photographs below show how things look with a further bump up to 200Hz.

Perceived blur, 200Hz

At 200Hz, shown above, the UFO appears even narrower with superior detailing. This reflects a further decrease in perceived blur due to eye movement. The trailing extends a bit further back and is bolder in general, due to the pixel response requirements being further increased. We again deem the ‘Medium’ setting optimal. The ‘Strong’ setting gets rid of the ‘smeary’ trailing for the dark background and replaces it with something more powdery. And gets rid of any conventional trailing elsewhere, but replaces it with reasonably bright overshoot. Again, depending on your tolerance to overshoot you may find it acceptable. It is reduced compared to 144Hz, but in practice we found it quite eye-catching in places. The pursuit photographs below show another bump up in refresh rate, to 240Hz.

Perceived blur, 240Hz

At 240Hz, shown above, the UFO appears appears narrower again with slightly sharpened internal detailing. This reflects a further decrease in perceived blur due to eye movement. The trailing behaviour is not massively different to 200Hz, with the trails extending just a bit further back now. The pixel response requirements for optimal performance are now even stricter and some pixel transitions clearly aren’t performed optimally. Especially for the dark background. The ‘Medium’ setting is again the one we’d deem optimal, but the overshoot using the ‘Strong’ setting has been toned down again and depending on overshoot tolerance that setting could be deemed acceptable. We observed some more eye-catching overshoot examples for some transitions not shown in this test, though, and we give some examples of those in the video review. The fast IPS reference sets a high benchmark here, giving a rather clean performance with only a bit of ‘light powdery’ trailing but no strong overshoot, ‘smeary’ or ‘heavy powdery’ trailing.

As well as increasing refresh rate to minimise perceived blur due to eye movement, the monitor offers an alternative in the form of ‘MBR’ (Motion Blur Reduction). This is a strobe backlight setting that causes the backlight to pulse at a frequency matching the refresh rate of the display – 120Hz, 144Hz, 165Hz, 200Hz or 240Hz. Sensitivity to this flickering varies and some may find it bothersome whilst others will notice accelerated eye fatigue when using the setting, even if the flickering isn’t actively bothersome to them. The pursuit photographs below were taken with the monitor set to 120Hz using MBR. A few reference screens are also shown for comparison, using their respective strobe backlight settings at 120Hz. The AOC C24G1 using MBR (Motion Blur Reduction) and set to what we consider its optimal setting for that. And the Dell S2417DG using ULMB (‘Ultra Low Motion Blur’).

Note that the ‘Overdrive’ setting can be adjusted under MBR. We will only test the setting we deem optimal for each refresh rate, which is ‘Medium’ at 120Hz and ‘Strong’ at 240Hz. Note that ‘Strong’ provides extreme and obvious overshoot at 120Hz, whilst ‘Medium’ is really too slow for reasonable performance at 240Hz under MBR. Also be aware that setting the ‘Overdrive’ to ‘Boost’ is equivalent to setting ‘MBR’ to ‘20’ and ‘Overdrive’ to ‘Off’ – so a very odd setting indeed.

Perceived blur, 120Hz MBR

With MBR active, the main object appears significantly narrower with clearer internal detailing. This is at least true for the higher ‘MBR’ settings. The white notches are distinct and countable using ‘MBR = 20’. This narrower and more focused look to the main image indicates a significant decrease in perceived blur due to eye movement, the main purpose of a strobe backlight setting such as this. Some trailing can also be observed in front of and behind the object, fragmented due to the strobe nature of the backlight. With ‘MBR = 1’ it essentially melds into the object and makes the object appear as a messy overlap of multiple repetitions. This fragmented trailing (repetitions of the object) is due to the pixel responses not keeping up with the rigorous demands of the refresh cycle. With ‘MBR = 10’ the initial repetition is very bold in front of the object for the dark background, whereas with ‘MBR = 20’ this doesn’t manifest in the same way. You can instead see a colourful red trail from the phosphors of the backlight. For the medium background the repetition appear in front and behind for ‘MBR = 10’, just behind but bolder for ‘MBR = 20’. They repetitions are only behind and also much fainter for the light background. The all-encompassing term ‘strobe crosstalk’ is used to describe this fragmented trailing around the object. Because not all areas of the screen refresh simultaneously, the appearance of strobe crosstalk can differ depending on how high up or low down on the screen the movement is being observed. The reference shots don’t show this strobe crosstalk, but some overshoot is visible due to the strong pixel overdrive used to speed up the pixel transitions. The images below show results with a doubling of the refresh rate to 240Hz, MBR again active.

Perceived blur, 165Hz Aim Stabilizer

The clarity of the initial object is now very strong, particularly for ‘MBR = 20’ and to a fair extent when using ‘MBR = 10’. By eye the segmentation (black lines on UFO body) was more distinct using ‘MBR = 10’ and ‘MBR = 20’ than it appears in the photos. The strobe crosstalk is again evident, but due to the increased refresh rate there are a greater number of fragments and each fragment is significantly smaller. The optimal overdrive setting, as tested here, is now ‘Strong’, so some overshoot is evident for the medium and light backgrounds. Overall the strobe crosstalk and overshoot is quite a bit fainter than the main object, so it doesn’t take as much away from the overall perceived blur as it would do with stronger strobe crosstalk. Although we didn’t test intermediate refresh rates here, they performed some way between 120Hz and 240Hz as you might expect – the optimal overdrive setting to be used in each case is subjective. But we found the overshoot using the ‘Strong’ setting pretty distracting except for at 240Hz, where it was still strong in places (as we explore shortly).

As noted just before, it’s important to note that strobe crosstalk varies at different areas of the screen. Not all areas refresh simultaneously, so its appearance can differ depending on how high up or low down on the screen movement is being observed. The images below show pursuit photographs running from the top to bottom regions of the screen, with the screen set to 240Hz and ‘MBR = 10’. Strobe crosstalk variation at different points was also observed at 120Hz and using ‘MBR = 20’ – but the shift in its position was pretty similar and we didn’t feel it was worthwhile documenting these observations.

Strobe Crosstalk, 240Hz MBR 10

You can see fairly strong strobe crosstalk in front of the object further up the screen. Towards the bottom of the screen very strong strobe crosstalk is observed behind the object – so strong that it’s as bold as the object itself. It melds into it and essentially creates a ‘double UFO’. Due to the high refresh rate the fragments are relatively close to one another, but it’s still detrimental to motion clarity. For the central bulk of the screen the strobe crosstalk levels were more bearable. There was certainly still some there, but it was quite a bit fainter than the main object so didn’t affect motion clarity as much as further up or down the screen. When you’re playing the sort of game where this setting comes into its own, such as a fast-paced FPS title, your main focus is generally towards the centre of the screen. So it’s good that the monitor is free from such strong strobe crosstalk there. We put this all together with subjective impressions and some additional considerations a bit later on in the review.

Responsiveness in games and movies

On Battlefield V, at frame rates keeping up with the refresh rate, the monitor provided quite a fluid 240Hz experience. The monitor is pumping out up to 4 times as much visual information every second as a 60Hz monitor, or this monitor set to 60Hz (running at 60fps). This improves what we refer to as the ‘connected feel’, describing the precision and fluidity you feel when interacting with your character and the game world. The low signal delay of the monitor also aided this aspect. The combination of high refresh rate and frame rate also significantly reduces perceived blur due to eye movement, as demonstrated earlier using the UFO Motion Test for ghosting. The bump up from 144Hz (at 144fps) in both respects was something we noticed and is something some users would appreciate as well. But we wouldn’t say it’s as dramatic or impactful as the initial upgrade from 60Hz to 144Hz.

Pixel responsiveness is also an important component of perceived blur, something VA models like this are known to have issues with. As we explored with Test UFO earlier, this model certainly has some weaknesses when it comes to pixel responsiveness – but it’s a relatively strong performer for the panel type. Where darker shades were involved we observed ‘smeary’ trailing due to the pixel responses being significantly slower than optimal. Where some medium-dark shades shades were involved, the weaknesses were less pronounced but still enough to cause ‘heavy powdery’ trailing. Not as distinct, but enough to impact perceived blur fairly noticeably for those transitions. Most pixel transitions were performed very quickly, though, giving a ‘light powdery’ trailing that had much less of an impact on perceived blur. Or providing no visible trailing at all. The weakest pixel transitions were fewer and further between when compared to most VA models. We drew the comparison earlier with the AOC CQ27G2(U), which is pretty typical for a high refresh rate VA model and actually a bit better than some. And the PD27 certainly edges it out by quite some margin when it comes to pixel responsiveness. We observed some overshoot in places, but nothing too dramatic. A bit of ‘halo’ trailing that was brighter than the background shade, for example, where medium to brighter shades dominated. Such as moving past a tree or metal post against a foggy sky. The section of the video review below highlights the strengths and weaknesses of this model when it comes to responsiveness and draws further comparisons with other models.

We made similar observations on Shadow of the Tomb Raider. The high frame and refresh rate combination again did its thing to improve ‘connected feel’ and reduce perceived blur. Although the competitive edge that this brings was not really relevant to this title and the refresh rate would generally be considered overkill for casual gaming of this sort. Because there are plenty of darker scenes in this title, there were certainly occasions when the more pronounced weaknesses in pixel responsiveness could be observed. There was some ‘smeary’ trailing for the worst offenders and some ‘heavy powdery’ trailing elsewhere. It’s also worth noting that the weaknesses described on both titles here don’t always manifest as distinct trailing. Intricate mixtures of light and dark, such as certain well-defined foliage with an alternation between green leaf and dark shadow or blades of grass, can introduce a sort of ‘flickering’ effect. The pixel response weaknesses mean that the shades blend together during movement and the overall object appears dimmer than it should. Quite a few of the shades on this title are medium-dark shades, which VA panels typically struggle with – they will often result in ‘smeary’ trailing or can induce the sort of flickering effect during movement we just described. On this model they didn’t cause such pronounced issues. There was also a bit of overshoot in places, but nothing dramatic or particularly eye-catching in our view.

We also observed video content of a range of frame rates. Including ~24-30fps content on platforms such as Netflix and some 60fps content on YouTube. The monitor again put in a good performance as far as the panel type goes. As usual there were no distinct weaknesses for the lower frame rate content, with the frame rate itself the main barrier to visual fluidity there. For the higher frame rate content we observed some weaknesses in places, but nothing we’d really describe as ‘smeary’ trailing. The pixel response requirements are reduced when compared to the much higher frame rate observations we made when gaming, so it makes sense that the weaknesses were less pronounced. We observed some ‘powdery’ trailing for some of the darker content and a touch of overshoot in places. We’d usually see more distinct weaknesses than this from a VA panel, so it was nice to see a relatively competent (although not perfect) performance here.

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AOC PD27


FreeSync – the technology and activating it

AMD FreeSync is a variable refresh rate technology, an AMD-specific alternative to Nvidia G-SYNC. Where possible, the monitor dynamically adjusts its refresh rate so that it matches the frame rate being outputted by the GPU. Both our responsiveness article and the G-SYNC article linked to explore the importance of these two elements being synchronised. At a basic level, a mismatch between the frame rate and refresh rate can cause stuttering (VSync on) or tearing and juddering (VSync off). FreeSync also boasts reduced latency compared to running with VSync enabled, in the variable frame rate environment in which it operates.

FreeSync requires a compatible AMD GPU such as the Radeon RX 580 used in our test system. There is a list of GPUs which support the technology here, with the expectation that future AMD GPUs will support the feature too. The monitor itself must support ‘VESA Adaptive-Sync’ for at least one of its display connectors, as this is the protocol that FreeSync uses. The PD27 supports FreeSync via DP and HDMI on compatible GPUs. The variable refresh rate range, LFC and HDR support means this model is AMD FreeSync Premium Pro certified, specifically. HDR can be activated (at the same time as FreeSync) via DP 1.4 or HDMI 2.0. You need to make sure ‘Adaptive-Sync’ is set to ‘On’ in the ‘Game Setting’ section of the OSD. On the GPU driver side recent AMD drivers make activation of the technology very simple. You should ensure the GPU driver is setup correctly to use FreeSync, so open ‘AMD Radeon Software’, click ‘Settings’ (cog icon towards top right) and click on ‘Display’. You should then ensure that the first slider is set to ‘Enabled’ as shown below. The top image shows the monitor connected by DP, where the setting in question is referred to as ‘Adaptive Sync Compatible’. The bottom image shows the monitor connected by HDMI, where the setting is referred to as ‘VRR’. You may instead see reference to ‘Radeon FreeSync’ if using more recent drivers. We were using the latest AMD drivers available at time of review, but the monitor was still undergoing the certification process at the time so the setting was not referred to as ‘Radeon FreeSync’. This is just a technicality and didn’t affect the performance or capabilities of the display.

Enable FreeSync (DP)

Enable FreeSync (HDMI)

The AOC supports a variable refresh rate range of 55 – 240Hz* (144Hz max via HDMI). This means that if the game is running between 55fps and 240fps, the monitor will adjust its refresh rate to match. When the frame rate rises above 240fps, the monitor will stay at 240Hz and the GPU will respect your selection of ‘VSync on’ or ‘VSync off’ in the graphics driver. With ‘VSync on’ the frame rate will not be allowed to rise above 240fps, at which point VSync activates and imposes the usual associated latency penalty. With ‘VSync off’ the frame rate is free to climb as high as the GPU will output (potentially >240fps). AMD LFC (Low Framerate Compensation) is also supported by this model, which means that the refresh rate will stick to multiples of the frame rate where it falls below the 55Hz (55fps) floor of operation for FreeSync. If a game ran at 35fps, for example, the refresh rate would be 70Hz to help keep tearing and stuttering at bay. This feature is used regardless of VSync setting, so it’s only above the ceiling of operation where the VSync setting makes a difference.

To configure VSync, open ‘AMD Radeon Software’. Click ‘Settings’ (cog icon towards top right) and click ‘Graphics’. The setting is listed as ‘Wait for Vertical Refresh’. This configures it globally, but if you wish to configure it for individual games click ‘Game Graphics’ towards the top right. The default is ‘Off, unless application specifies’ which means that VSync will only be active if you enable it within the game itself, if there is such an option. Such an option does usually exist – it may be called ‘sync every frame’ or something along those lines rather than simply ‘VSync’. Most users will probably wish to enable VSync when using FreeSync to ensure that they don’t get any tearing. You’d therefore select either the third or fourth option in the list, shown in the image below. Above this dropdown list there’s a toggle for ‘Radeon Enhanced Sync’. This is an alternative to VSync which allows the frame rate to rise above the refresh rate (no VSync latency penalty) whilst potentially keeping the experience free from tearing or juddering. This requires that the frame rate comfortably exceeds the refresh rate, not just peaks slightly above it. We won’t be going into this in detail as it’s a GPU feature rather than a monitor feature.

VSync options

Some users prefer to leave VSync enabled but use a frame rate limiter set a few frames below the maximum supported (e.g. 237fps) instead, avoiding any VSync latency penalty at frame rates near the ceiling of operation or tearing from frame rates rising above the refresh rate. If you activate the ‘FrameCounter’ feature in the ‘Game Setting’ section of the OSD, this will display the refresh rate of the display and therefore indicate the frame rate if ‘FreeSync’ is active and the frame rate is within the variable refresh rate range of the display. The final point to note is that FreeSync only removes stuttering or juddering related to mismatches between frame rate and refresh rate. It can’t compensate for other interruptions to smooth game play, for example network latency or insufficient system memory. Some game engines will also show stuttering (or ‘hitching’) for various other reasons which won’t be eliminated by the technology.

*If you click on ‘Display Specs’ in the ‘Display Options’ screen that’s shown in the first image above, it lists 48 – 240Hz as the ‘AMD FreeSync Refresh Rate’ at the bottom. In our testing the floor of operation appeared to be 55Hz (55fps) rather than 48Hz (48fps), even if the monitor was set to a lower refresh rate such as 144Hz.

FreeSync – the experience

We used this monitor on various game titles with FreeSync enabled. As usual, the experience was very similar across all titles. If any issues were identified on one title but not another, it would also indicate an issue with the game or GPU driver rather than the monitor. For simplicity we’ll just use one title as an example here; Battlefield V. The flexibility offered with the graphics settings on the game allows a broad range of refresh rates to be tested. The Radeon RX 580 used for this testing is certainly not up to the task of running at a solid 240fps at the WQHD resolution, so there were plenty of dips below this. The technology worked very effectively to get rid of tearing and stuttering from frame and refresh rate mismatches. Sensitivity to such issues varies, but if like us it’s something you’re sensitive to then it’s very nice indeed having such interruptions removed from the experience. The technology worked all the way down to the 55fps (55Hz) floor of operation. Below this LFC (Low Framerate Compensation) kicked in and the monitor stuck to a multiple of the frame rate with its refresh rate. This kept tearing and stuttering at bay, although as we invariable notice with the technology there was a slight brief stuttering when passing the boundary. This isn’t generally an issue if you only occasionally pass the boundary, but if you frequently pass it then it could become bothersome.

VA monitors are notoriously sensitive to the voltage changes that accompany changes in refresh rate. This model responded well in that respect with our AMD GPU in control as we only really observed slight flickering during significant frame rate fluctuations. Such as a sudden drop from 160fps to 90fps. We didn’t observe any clear flickering when crossing the LFC boundary as we sometimes do. This causes a sudden change in refresh rate from 55Hz (55fps in game) to 108Hz (54fps in game) or vice-versa. There are a few additional things to bear in mind when using a VRR technology such as FreeSync. Whilst it helps with the tearing and stuttering from frame and refresh rate mismatches, a reduction in frame rate still increases perceived blur and reduces ‘connected feel’ – so higher frame rates are always better in that respect.

The monitor doesn’t include variable overdrive, so the pixel overdrive is really tuned around the maximum refresh rate. At reduced refresh rates, which accompany drops in framerate with FreeSync active, increased overshoot was observed. As frame rate dropped to perhaps 200fps or so, there were some instances of fairly bright ‘halo’ trailing. This became stronger as frame rate dropped closer to 100fps, with some colourful elements such as cyan visible in some instances. This was not extreme overshoot, but certainly more noticeable than at much higher refresh rates. As things dropped to the double digits and drew closer to 60fps, the overshoot became quite eye-catching in places. Significantly stronger than if the monitor was set to a static 60Hz refresh rate instead. Some ‘halo’ trailing was now quite a bit brighter than the background shades, so it stood out to us. This is subjective, of course. Some users who are sensitive to overshoot might consider dialling down ‘Overdrive’ to ‘Weak’. This reduces the overshoot but also increases overall perceived blur and makes ‘smeary’ trailing more pronounced and widespread. This was certainly true at ~100Hz and even at ~60Hz there were some transitions that were noticeably slowed down using the ‘Weak’ setting compared to ‘Medium’.

Nvidia Adaptive-Sync (‘G-SYNC Compatible’)

As noted earlier, AMD FreeSync makes use of Adaptive-Sync technology on a compatible monitor. As of driver version 417.71, users with Nvidia GPUs (GTX 10 series and newer) and Windows 10 can also make use of this Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) technology. When a monitor is used in this way, it is something which Nvidia refers to as ‘G-SYNC Compatible’. Some models are specifically validated as G-SYNC compatible, which means they have been specifically tested by Nvidia and pass specific quality checks. With the PD27, you need to connect the monitor up via DisplayPort and enable ‘Adaptive-Sync’ in the ‘Game Setting’ section of the OSD. When you open up Nvidia Control Panel, you should then see ‘Set up G-SYNC’ listed in the ‘Display’ section. Ensure the ‘Enable G-SYNC, G-SYNC Compatible’ checkbox and ‘Enable settings for the selected display model’ is checked as shown below. Press OK, then turn the monitor off then on again so that it re-establishes connection – the technology should now be active.

G-SYNC Compatible settings

You will also see in the image above that it states: “Selected Display is not validated as G-SYNC Compatible.” The technology was useable on our Nvidia RTX 3090 and did its thing to get rid of tearing and stuttering from frame rate refresh rate mismatches. HDR could again be used at the same time if you wish. The VRR range was 60 – 240Hz, so a slightly higher floor of operation. The floor of operation was slightly lower if a lower refresh rate was selected, according to our testing; 50Hz @120Hz, 52Hz @144Hz, 54Hz @165Hz and 58Hz @200Hz. We observed more widespread and noticeable flickering than when using FreeSync on our AMD GPU. This was easier to observe for brighter content and using a higher brightness – for that reason any flickering becomes particularly clear when using HDR. We used multiple DP cable including a high quality braided cable, but this didn’t yield any improvement. With FreeSync on our AMD GPU, flickering only occurred during very large drops and other very large fluctuations in frame rate. On our Nvidia GPU it was triggered by less dramatic fluctuations. It became particularly noticeable if the monitor crossed the LFC boundary, often triggered by in-game menus and cut scenes. This was in addition to the stuttering observed when passing the LFC boundary, as discussed earlier with reference to FreeSync. When in game the flickering wasn’t generally strong or obnoxious, so it won’t bother everyone and isn’t something everyone would notice during normal gameplay. But it’s certainly something to keep in mind if you’re sensitive to this kind of thing – it has the potential to be quite bothersome to some.

Our suggestions regarding use of VSync also apply, but you’re using Nvidia Control Panel rather than AMD Radeon Settings to control this. The setting is found in ‘Manage 3D settings’ under ‘Vertical sync’, where the final option (‘Fast’) is equivalent to AMD’s ‘Enhanced Sync’ setting. You’ll also notice ‘G-SYNC Compatible’ listed under ‘Monitor Technology’ in this section, as shown below. Make sure this is selected (it should be if you’ve set everything up correctly in ‘Set up G-SYNC’).

G-SYNC Compatible settings

Finally, note again that you can activate the ‘FrameCounter’ feature in the ‘Game Setting’ section of the OSD to show the current refresh rate. This will adjust as the frame rate of the content changes if it’s in the main variable refresh rate window (60 – 240fps).

MBR (Motion Blur Reduction)

Earlier in the review, we introduced the MBR (Motion Blur Reduction) feature, its principles of operation and how it performs using specific tests. When using MBR or a similar strobe backlight feature, you must have your frame rate synchronised properly with the refresh rate of the display. If that isn’t the case you’re left with extremely obvious stuttering or juddering. This stands out in a particularly obvious way because there’s very little perceived blur due to eye movement to mask it. You can’t use Adaptive-Sync at the same time as MBR. We tested this setting using a range of game titles, but we’ll just be focusing on Battlefield V at a solid 240fps and the monitor set to 240Hz for this section. As noted earlier we deemed the ‘Strong’ overdrive setting optimal for 240Hz under MBR and that’s what we’ll be using. The technology also worked at lower refresh rates (as low as 120Hz), but as noted we’d recommend the ‘Medium’ overdrive setting there to avoid extreme overshoot. We found an MBR setting of ‘15’ offered a nice balance between brightness and clarity, but individual preferences will vary.

The MBR setting was effective in reducing perceived blur due to eye movement. During rapid manoeuvres in a vehicle or simply turning the mouse quickly whilst on foot, the environment maintained a sharp and detailed look that’s beyond what you’d see with the setting disabled. As explored earlier the monitor has some strobe crosstalk, repetitions of the main object that in some cases are about as bold as the object itself and therefore determinantal to perceived blur. Fortunately, this wasn’t extreme and certainly wasn’t too bad centrally and where your main focus is when gaming on titles like this. There was some rather eye-catching overshoot due to needing to use the ‘strong’ overdrive setting, although this didn’t really detract from the excellent motion clarity (low perceived blur) using this setting. The ‘Medium’ setting on the other hand provided many pixel responses that were too slow for a convincing strobe backlight performance – more acceptable at reduced refresh rates but still far less than ideal.

Additional considerations include that the backlight flickers at a frequency matching the refresh rate of the display. This could bother sensitive users and even if the flickering itself isn’t noticed, it can be accelerate visual fatigue. We also observed some colourful flashes of cyan, green and magenta, particularly when observing slim light-coloured objects such as white text or certain lamps in the game. This was observable at 240Hz but was even more noticeable (along with the flickering) at reduced refresh rates. These flashes are common on wide gamut models when using strobe backlight settings and were less intense and colourful than we’ve seen on some wide gamut models. Likely because the colour gamut isn’t as wide in this case. Overall, we can see some potential with this setting for more competitive gameplay scenarios. But the downsides will make it unpalatable to many, including; relatively strong overshoot, flickering, necessity of having the frame rate match the refresh rate consistently and the fact Adaptive-Sync can’t be used at the same time.

HDR (High Dynamic Range)

On an ideal monitor, HDR (High Dynamic Range) involves the simultaneous display of very bright light shades and good deep dark shades. Additionally, the monitor should be able to display a huge range of colours between these extremes – and array of very vibrant and saturated shades plus much more muted shades. The monitor would ideally support per-pixel illumination, with a backlight-free technology such as OLED being an example of that. Or at least, as an LCD, a very large number of dimming zones that are precisely controlled. A solution such as FALD (Full Array Local Dimming) with a good number of dimming zones, for example. This sort of solution allows some areas of the image to remain very dim whilst others show brilliant high luminance levels. In terms of colour reproduction, the ultimate goal is support for an extremely generous colour gamut, Rec. 2020. A more achievable near-term goal is support for at least 90% DCI-P3 (Digital Cinema Initiatives standard colour space) coverage. Finally, HDR makes use of at least 10-bit precision per colour channel, so its desirable that the monitor supports at least 10-bits per subpixel.

The HDR10 pipeline is the most widely supported HDR standard used in HDR games and movies. And that’s what’s supported here. For most games and other full screen applications that support HDR, the AOC will automatically switch into its HDR operating mode when an HDR signal is detected. As of the latest Windows 10 update, relevant HDR settings in Windows are found in ‘Windows HD Color settings’ which can be accessed via ‘Display settings’ (right click the desktop). Most game titles will activate HDR correctly when the appropriate in-game setting is selected. A minority of game titles that support HDR will only run in HDR if the setting is active in Windows as well. Specifically, the toggle which says ‘Play HDR games and apps’. If you want to view HDR movies on a compatible web browser, for example, you’d also need to activate the ‘Stream HDR Video’ setting. These settings are shown below. Also note that there’s a slider that allows you to adjust the overall balance of SDR content if HDR is active in Windows. This is really just a digital brightness slider, so you lose contrast by adjusting it. The settings in the OSD are greatly restricted under under HDR, and the image balance isn’t right when viewing SDR content rather than HDR content in this model. So we’d recommend only activating HDR in Windows if you’re about to use an HDR application that specifically requires it.

Windows HD Color settings

To keep things simple we’ll just focus on a couple of familiar game titles; Battlefield V and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. We’ve tested both titles on a wide range of HDR-capable monitors and we know they offer a good HDR experience. Limited by the HDR capability of the monitor. Although our testing here is focused on HDR PC gaming using DisplayPort, we made similar observations when viewing HDR video content on the Windows 10 Netflix app. We also made observations using HDMI, which is naturally how you’d hook the monitor up when using an HDR compatible games console for example. The HDR performance was similar in all cases. As usual for HDR, the settings available in the OSD are greatly cut down, including brightness, gamma settings and colour channels being inaccessible. The monitor includes various HDR modes found in the ‘Image Setup’ section of the OSD; ‘DisplayHDR’, ‘HDRPicture’, ‘HDRMovie’ and ‘HDRGame’. With an SDR signal only the latter 3 options are available and they just apply a weird filter to the image. Under HDR, the ‘DisplayHDR’ setting is available and the default setting. It’s also by far the best balanced and closest to the intended HDR output so this is what we stuck to for our testing. The remaining settings provide a highly oversaturated and unnatural look to things, with many shades looking completely off base. This wasn’t just the sort of extra saturation observed under SDR from the wide colour gamut, rather more like a strange filter has been applied. The ‘HDRPicture’ and ‘HDRMovie’ settings also massively oversharpened the image.

The AOC PD27 is VESA DisplayHDR 400 certified. This is the lowest level that VESA certifies for, so it’s only a basic HDR experience that’s offered. The requirements for colour gamut under this tier are very loose compared to higher tiers which demand 90%+ DCI-P3 coverage. The AOC does happen to offer decent DCI-P3 coverage, as explored earlier. We measured 89% DCI-P3, shown in the representation below with the red triangle showing the monitor’s colour gamut, the blue triangle DCI-P3 and the green triangle sRGB. With reasonable coverage of the colour space developers have in mind as their near-term target, there was a definite toning down of some shades compared to under SDR. The oversaturated reddish browns and some overly yellowish greens gave some scenes a bit of an unnatural appearance under SDR. Under HDR these unwanted hues were not present, allowing things to appear more neutral and more natural. Elements that the developers wanted to be vibrant, such as licks of brightly coloured paints, eye-catching yellow and blue flowers and roaring orange flames showed reasonable but not particularly high levels of vibrancy. There were some shades showcased that are beyond the confines of the sRGB colour space. But these elements weren’t as eye-catching as they would be with an even more generous colour gamut, including complete DCI-P3 coverage or further extension towards that ‘ultimate gamut’ (Rec. 2020). The backlight is always set to a high level under HDR, too, as we explore shortly, which saps some depth away from some shades as well. There were some saturation losses further down the screen and towards the side edges, related to the viewing angle weaknesses and perceived gamma shifts as well. So overall, whilst not the worst colour representation we’ve seen under HDR certainly not the best either.

Colour gamut 'Test Settings'

Colour gamut 'Test Settings'


The HDR10 pipeline makes use of 10-bits per colour channel, which the monitor supports via 8-bit + FRC. At some refresh rates (240Hz for DP, 120Hz+ for HDMI) the dithering stage is offloaded to the GPU at the native resolution, for bandwidth reasons. We’ve carefully observed a range of content (including fine gradients) on a broad range of monitors where 10-bit is supported monitor side (usually 8-bit + FRC) and where the GPU handles the dithering under HDR. Including comparisons with a given model where the monitor handles the dithering at some refresh rates and the GPU handles it at others, due to bandwidth limitations. Regardless of the method used to achieve the ’10-bit’ colour signal, we find the result very similar. Some subtle differences may be noticed during careful side by side comparison of very specific content, but things are really handled very well even if GPU dithering is used. However the 10-bit colour signal is leveraged, it enhances precision and aids the nuanced display of closely matching shades. We find this particularly noticeable for darker shades, with shadow detailing and suchlike being given a more natural look. The enhanced variety of closely matching dark shades lifts such details out, but not in the sort of artificial and out of place way you’d get with a gamma enhancement under SDR. We also notice the benefits for brighter shades, with gentler and smoother gradients and more natural progressions there. Light mists, clouds, smoke and suchlike are good examples of elements that appear more natural due to the enhanced precision. The image below is from one of our favourite scenes on Shadow of the Tomb Raider for showcasing HDR. The photograph below was taken on a different monitor, it’s just to illustrate the scene being described here.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider HDR

Under normal conditions the monitor doesn’t use any Dynamic Contrast under HDR, so the entire backlight stays at a high brightness level (~550 cd/m² or a bit above, as recorded earlier). This meant the bright elements such as the sun beaming up from above and glinting off the water in this scene were quite eye-catching. But such elements didn’t stand out as much as they could, if luminance was even higher and indeed if the surrounding darker shades had superior depth to them. Even if the scene is composed entirely of dark elements, the backlight keeps on pumping out the same luminance level – giving such scenes a flooded look without anywhere near the appropriate depth. The monitor lacks any local dimming, which is not unusual for a monitor of this HDR ‘level’. Some of the better HDR performers at this level (VESA DisplayHDR 400) use effective and precise Dynamic Contrast that’s enhanced by HDR meta data. That is to say the backlight can respond accurately to the image content and rapidly adjust according to that. As noted in the contrast section you can enforce a Dynamic Contrast section on the AOC by enabling ‘DCR’ before an HDR signal is detected. This ignores HDR meta data and makes leisurely and largely inappropriate adjustments, so whilst it can make very dark scenes appear less ‘flooded’ it struggles with mixed content and saps too much brightness away from bright elements. Unless they’re filling pretty much the entire screen. A good example of a screen that employs effective Dynamic Contrast that’s properly tuned for HDR is the ViewSonic XG270QC. Even then, it’s always preferable to have an effective local dimming solution instead. Without that, it’s always a balancing act with the backlight without any ability to display deep dark shades and bright light shades simultaneously. In other words; not a true HDR experience at all when it comes to contrast. The section of the video review below looks at the HDR performance of the monitor, with examples from Shadow of the Tomb Raider.



The curve and resolution

We’ve reviewed quite a few curved monitors now and often find the curvature something that’s fairly subtle, easy to adapt to and get used to. With its 1000R curve, the PD27 offers a steeper curvature than any other we’ve tested. Quite a jump from the 1500R curve seen on the likes of the ViewSonic XG270QC. We found the curvature rather noticeable and difficult to ignore at first, although didn’t find uneasy using the monitor because of it. The effect was one of a definite extra feeling of depth. After putting a fair few hours in with the monitor, the curve started to feel more natural. But it was definitely more of a ‘feature’ than on models with a shallower curve and was something we were consciously aware of rather than something that’s easy to forget is even there at all. The curve also has the potential to slightly enhance viewing comfort – we certainly found the monitor comfortable enough to use, but we’d say the same about plenty of flat screens of this size as well.

This is the sort of curvature that some will like and they’ll feel it adds to the experience. For others it will be a bit on the steep side. And some users have legitimate reasons for chasing geometric perfection or may spend a lot of time viewing the monitor from a decentralised angle, in which case a flat model could make more sense. The 2560 x 1440 (WQHD) resolution and 27” screen size combination delivers a comfortable pixel density, one that’s pretty high but not on the extreme end. This delivers respectable clarity to text, detail to suitably high resolution content and a good amount of useful desktop ‘real-estate’. The screen size can also add a bit of extra immersion compared to smaller screens, and this is a feeling the fairly steep curve of the screen can enhance. The image below is just there to fire up the imagination. The curve is certainly exaggerated in pictures and videos of the screen which suggests you’ll see this pin cushioning effect with the screen appearing to ‘pinch in’ centrally. When you sit in front of the monitor and use it normally, that isn’t what you observe at all.

The desktop

The curve also draws you into the gaming experience in a similar way. It didn’t make things feel unnatural or in any way uncomfortable when absorbed in a game and focusing on the action in the centre of the screen. Scanning from the centre of the screen to edges did remind us of the strength of the curve, though, which is more common in some games. We were still generally less conscious of the curve when gaming than on the desktop. And also less conscious of the curve when engrossed in full screen video content. It has a greater effect on drawing you in compared to less steep curvatures, which some will like, but some may feel it’s less ‘natural’ and familiar because of that. On an UltraWide screen the curve really makes sense due to the width of the screen and the engagement of the peripheral vision. But some might feel it’s a bit misplaced on a 27” 16:9 screen like this. We’re a bit split on this and would usually say the curve is there but not something we’d put high on our list for either buying or avoiding a monitor of this sort. In this case the steepness of the curve makes it a definite feature, though, so it could make or break the product for some. The images below showcase a range of game title running on the monitor and in no way accurately show how the monitor looks in person.

Battlefield V

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

The Outer Worlds

Interpolation and upscaling

You may wish to run the monitor at a lower resolution than the native 2560 x 1440 (WQHD). Perhaps for performance reasons, or because you’re using a system such as a games console that might be unable to output the native resolution. The monitor provides scaling functionality via both DP and HDMI. The monitor can use an interpolation process to display a non-native resolution (such as 1920 x 1080 Full HD) using all 2560 x 1440 pixels of the screen. The refresh rates supported when using the monitor’s interpolation were those covered in the first Full HD list (‘Ultra HD, HD, SD’) at the end of the ‘Features and aesthetics’ section – up to a maximum of 120Hz. As noted there a ‘4K’ UHD downsampling mode is also offered when using HDMI, at up to 60Hz. If you wish to make use of the monitor’s scaling rather than the GPU scaling, you need to ensure the GPU driver is correctly configured so that the GPU doesn’t take over the scaling process. If you’ve got an AMD GPU, the driver is set up correctly by default to allow the monitor to interpolate where possible. Nvidia users should open Nvidia Control Panel and navigate to ‘Display – Adjust desktop size and position’. Ensure that ‘No Scaling’ is selected and ‘Perform scaling on:’ is set to ‘Display’ as shown in the following image.

Nvidia scaling options

The monitor offers various scaling options under ‘Image Ratio’ in the ‘Extra’ section of the OSD. These can only be adjusted if Adaptive-Sync is disabled, otherwise the default ‘Wide’ setting is used. This means that the monitor uses an interpolation process to map the selected resolution onto all 2560 x 1440 of its pixels. With Adaptive-Sync disabled you have access to a range of other settings here, with the most useful alternative to the default setting being ‘1:1’, a pixel mapping feature which only uses the pixels called for in the source resolution. Presenting the image without distortion, but with a large black border around it. These settings are covered in this section of the OSD video. When running the monitor at the 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) resolution, using the default ‘Wide’ setting, the monitor provides a somewhat softer image than a native 27” Full HD model. A moderate sharpness filter is applied to offset the softening, so things certainly don’t look as soft as they do on some models when interpolation is used in this way. The sharpness filter isn’t strong enough to give a clear artificially oversharpened look, either. So the balance here is quite nice, although we prefer solutions that give some degree of control over the sharpness as everyone will have their own preference in that respect.

As usual, if you’re running the monitor at 2560 x 1440 and viewing 1920 x 1080 content (for example a video over the internet or a Blu-ray, using movie software) then it is the GPU and software that handles the upscaling. That’s got nothing to do with the monitor itself – there is a little bit of softening to the image compared to viewing such content on a native Full HD monitor, but it’s not extreme and shouldn’t bother most users.

Video review

The video below shows the monitor in action. The camera, processing done and your own screen all affect the output – so it doesn’t accurately represent what you’d see when viewing the monitor in person. It still provides useful visual demonstrations and explanations which help reinforce some of the key points raised in the written piece.




Timestamps:
Features & Aesthetics
Contrast
Colour reproduction
HDR (High Dynamic Range)
Responsiveness (General)
Responsiveness (Adaptive-Sync)

Conclusion

There’s no shortage of high refresh rate 2560 x 1440 (WQHD) models on the market with a 27” screen size. The PD27 is one such offering, pumping out up to 240Hz from its contrast-focused VA panel. The WQHD resolution and 27” screen size combination delivers a pleasing pixel density for both work and play – a good amount of desktop real estate, respectable clarity and detail. This AOC also offers a 1000R curvature, a steep curve that makes quite a statement. We found this easy to get used to when engrossed in a game and found it gave a bit of an extra feeling of depth without feeling unnatural. On the desktop we were more actively aware of it – and unlike with less steep curves (including 1500R) we didn’t adapt to it in quite the same way. That’s not to say we found it annoying, but it’s certainly a feature of the monitor and something that could make or break the product for some. Another integral feature of this model, as a Porsche Design model, is the styling and material choices. We found the stand particularly premium in both its look and feel, making the monitor a proud centrepiece of the desk. The accompanying OSD remote was also stylish and served a useful purpose – although the remote did rock quite a bit when placed flat against the desk and certain buttons were pressed. And some customisation for the numbered (1-3) buttons that simply allow you to quickly select one of the flawed ‘Gamer’ presets wouldn’t go amiss, either. The LightFX feature at the bottom of the monitor was a nice addition as well, clearly visible from the front and with a excellent level of customisation and control in the OSD rather than requiring additional software. The feature at the back was less impressive owing to the fact it faced the monitor screen rather than wall, so was only really visible from behind the monitor.

As expected from the specifications and in particular panel type used, contrast was the main strength here. The monitor was able to exceed the specified contrast under some setting and fell just below following the quite extensive adjustments made to our ‘Test Settings’. These were colour channel adjustments that vary between units – whilst the gamma tracking wasn’t perfectly in line with the ‘2.2’ standard on our unit, it wasn’t too far off and perfectly acceptable for the expected usage of the screen. The monitor exhibited a fairly average amount of ‘VA glow’, eating away at some atmosphere lower down the screen. And there was some ‘black crush’ which masked some subtle details, but about as little of this as we’ve seen. The overall atmosphere and depth to dark shades was far superior to competing IPS and TN models, however. We found the screen surface a touch on the grainy side, but not terrible in this respect. And with it being ‘light’ matte anti-glare, it didn’t give a strong layered appearance in front of the image and better preserved clarity and vibrancy compared to some surfaces. The monitor offered colours which were as consistent as we’ve seen from a VA panel. Far superior to TN models, better than some VA models – but still not up there with IPS-type models due to shifts in gamma and saturation. The fairly generous colour gamut (89% DCI-P3 recorded) injected some extra saturation and vibrancy as well. This isn’t something everyone would like, though, and whilst there was an sRGB emulation setting it was locked at an obnoxiously high brightness.

The monitor’s HDR performance was, in a word, mediocre. Not the worst we’ve seen by any means, but far from compelling. At the VESA DisplayHDR 400 level, there’s no requirement for local dimming. This model didn’t offer that and furthermore didn’t offer Dynamic Contrast enhanced by metadata under HDR. The backlight was quite powerful and able to pump out over 550 cd/m², far beyond the 400 cd/m² required for this ‘level’ of HDR. But it did so even if the scene was dominated by dark content, giving a flooded look with very little atmosphere to speak of. This was extreme enough to negatively affect the depth of some brighter shades as well. The colour gamut was sufficient for a reasonable HDR performance and it gave a more appropriate look to natural and more muted shades compared to SDR. Whilst simultaneously displaying some quite vibrant shades where the developers wanted them. But there was a sapping of depth from high brightness, the colour gamut wasn’t overly generous by HDR standards and the saturation losses further down and towards the edges of the screen. Add all this together and you get an HDR performance that’s nice to use for a bit of variety on occasion, but not really one that keeps reeling you in for more of the same.

The monitor certainly provided good responsiveness for the panel type, with low input lag, a 240Hz refresh rate and better pixel responsiveness than most VA models. There were still some weaknesses that caused ‘smeary’ trailing and some ‘heavy powdery’ trailing in places, too. These weaknesses were fewer and further between than they’d usually be on a VA model, but still persisted and could be bothersome to some users. Adaptive-Sync did its thing on both our Nvidia (‘G-SYNC Compatible Mode’) and AMD (FreeSync) GPUs to tackle tearing and stuttering from frame and refresh rate mismatches. There was quite widespread flickering on the Nvidia side, though, especially but not exclusively when things neared the floor of operation or passed the LFC boundary (~60fps/60Hz). The experience was superior in that respect on our AMD GPU, with only isolated flickering during huge fluctuations in frame rate. More impressive than most VA models in that respect, actually. We found the MBR strobe backlight setting to be quite reasonable at 240Hz with the ‘Strong’ overdrive setting. Performing its main function of minimising perceived blur due to eye movement very effectively. There was quite a bit of overshoot that we found rather eye-catching. Plus other issues common to such settings like flickering, some colourful flashes and loss of Adaptive-Sync to be aware of. But it didn’t suffer extreme strobe crosstalk and the brightness adjustment range was good, so we feel this setting combination has its place.

The comparison has to be drawn with the closest ‘apples to apples’ competitor with this model, the Samsung Odyssey G7 (C27G75T and related models). We haven’t reviewed that model but have closely followed the findings of others. It’s free from the ‘smeary’ trailing we discussed here and unlike with the ‘Strong’ overdrive setting of the AOC that is achieved without strong overshoot. There are still some weaknesses in terms of ‘heavy powdery’ trailing, but it’s still clearly a more competent performer in terms of pixel responsiveness. It also offers a slightly wider colour gamut with its Quantum Dot LED backlights offering a claimed 95% DCI-P, although most reviewers seem to measure closer to 90% which is close to the 89% we recorded for the AOC. It offers better HDR support due to local dimming on the backlight, although with 8 dimming zones it’s still rather limited in that respect. Reviewers usually measure somewhat lower contrast for the Samsung compared to what we measured on this AOC. The Samsung is also cheaper, sometimes significantly so depending on your market. You have to weigh that up against the AOC’s premium design and little additions like the more comprehensive wireless remote and greater number of ports. The PD27 is really designed to offer respectable all-round performance whilst acting as the centrepiece of the desk – and that is something it achieves.

The bottom line; a monitor with unique and premium design and respectable all-round performance – strong contrast, fairly vibrant colour output and decent but not class-leading responsiveness.

Positives Negatives
Fairly vibrant colour output due to a reasonable amount of extension beyond sRGB and decent colour consistency for the panel type
sRGB emulation setting locked to high brightness and colour gamut not as generous as some models – certainly room for improvement as far as HDR content is concerned
Strong static contrast and a powerful backlight, some HDR capability for those who like the variety ‘VA glow’ and ‘black crush’, but not an extreme degree of either. Slight graininess to the screen surface and HDR that’s hampered by a lack of local dimming or even Dynamic Contrast enhanced by metadata
A 240Hz refresh rate and low input lag, plus Adaptive-Sync working on both the AMD and Nvidia side to get tackle tearing and stuttering from frame and refresh rate mismatches Competent pixel responsiveness for the panel type, but still some ‘smeary’ trailing in places. A bit of overshoot, more so at reduced refresh rates under VRR. Some flickering issues using Adaptive-Sync, mainly on the Nvidia side
An unmistakably premium design, more expertly crafted sculpture than monitor. Good ergonomics, good and flexible LightFX (RGB LED) ambient lighting underneath the monitor and a comfortable size and resolution for many uses and users 1000R curve is steep and therefore a real statement – quite nice when gaming in our view, potentially annoying to some on the desktop in particular. Stand feet protrude far forwards, requiring decent desk depth


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AOC PD27

 
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