Gigabyte AORUS CV27F

Author: Adam Simmons
Date published: September 24th 2019

 

Introduction

As veterans of PC gaming, Gigabyte and their more recent AORUS sub-brand have garnered a lot of respect. They’re well-known in the space for their range of gaming components and peripherals, such as motherboards and GPUs. Their entry into the monitor market was more recent, with their initial offering being the capable and feature-rich AD27QD. The CV27F offers something quite different, with a lower and easier to drive resolution and the use of a VA rather than IPS-type panel. It remains equally feature-rich, with support for a high refresh rate, Adaptive-Sync and VESA DisplayHDR 400 support. This includes FreeSync 2 support on compatible systems. We put this model to the test with our usual ‘real-world’ scenarios, with a natural focus on the gaming experience but also the broader desktop experience.

Specifications

The monitor uses a 27” SVA panel with support for a Full HD resolution, 165Hz refresh rate and 8-bit colour. A 1ms MPRT (Moving Picture Response Time) is specified, with the monitor using its strobe backlight function. Some of the key ‘talking points’ for this monitor have been highlighted in blue below, for your reading convenience.

Screen size: 27 inches

Panel: Samsung SVA (‘Super’ Vertical Alignment) [CELL with custom backlight] LCD

Native resolution: 1920 x 1080

Typical maximum brightness: 400 cd/m²

Colour support: 16.7 million (8-bits per subpixel)

Response time (MPRT): 1ms

Refresh rate: 165Hz (variable, with Adaptive-Sync)

Weight: 7.0kg

Contrast ratio: 3000:1

Viewing angle: 178º horizontal, 178º vertical

Power consumption: 75W (max)

Backlight: WLED (White Light Emitting Diode)

Typical price as reviewed: £330 ($350 USD)


Features and aesthetics

The front of the monitor has a distinct ‘gamer’ look that’s quite similar to others in the series, such as the AD27QD. Its sharp lines, particularly on the stand, are quite reminiscent of many of recent ‘Predator’ models. The stand base is a ‘penguin-foot’ design and creates a solid base for the monitor, with a matte dark grey powder-coated metal finish. A 3-sided borderless design is used for the bezels, or as we like to call it a ‘dual-stage’ design. This combines a slender panel border that’s flush with the rest of the screen with a hard outer plastic component. Considering both components, the top and side bezels are ~9mm (0.35 inches). The bottom bezel is thicker, matte black plastic with a central shiny silver AORUS logo – ~22mm (0.87 inches) with a mere sliver of panel border. The central logo is surrounded by a bevelled textured matte black plastic area, slightly indented from the rest of the bezel. The most notable feature from the front is of course the screen itself, which is curved and has a light matte anti-glare finish. Both elements are explored deeper into the review.

Sharp lines

Switched on

View of the curve

The OSD (On Screen Display) is controlled by a joystick at the bottom of the monitor, facing downwards beneath the central AORUS logo. There’s also a small power LED beneath the logo, facing forwards. This glows a gentle cool white when the monitor is on and glows amber when it enters a low power state (signal to the system is lost). If you prefer, you can disable the LED in the OSD. The menu system and the RGB LED lighting feature, which can be controlled using ‘RGB Fusion’ software, is explored in the video below.



From the side the screen is fairly slim, ~13mm (0.51 inches) at thinnest point but lumping out centrally where the stand attaches. You can see the well-built stand from this angle, which offers good ergonomic flexibility; tilt (5° forwards, 21° backwards), height (130mm or 5.12 inches) and swivel (20° left and 20° right), adjustment. At lowest stand height the screen clears the desk by ~35mm (1.38 inches), with the top of the screen ~405mm (15.94 inches) above the desk. The total depth of the monitor including stand is ~268mm (10.55 inches), with the screen a few cm back from the front edge of the stand. So not the biggest desk space hog nor the most compact of designs, but a happy medium for many desks.

A side view

The rear of the monitor is matte black plastic, mainly with a plain texture but also some with a brushed texture towards the bottom corners. The included stand attaches centrally and can be removed using a quick-release mechanism – 2 ‘buttons’ either side of the stand attachment points, which can be pinched inwards. This can be replaced by an alternative 100 x 100mm VESA compatible solution. Flanking the stand attachment area are some ‘wings’, housing the RGB Fusion 2.0 LED lighting feature which was explored in the OSD video earlier. There are no further LEDs integrated into other areas, such as the stand neck. The central AORUS Falcon logo is shiny silver, whilst the top of the screen has a subtle engraved slogan: “TEAM UP. FIGHT ON.” The ports face downwards and include; AC power input (internal power converter), 3.5mm headphone jack, 3.5mm microphone jack (with ANC – Active Noise Cancellation), 2 HDMI 2.0 ports, DP 1.2a and 2 USB 3.0 ports (with 5V/1.5A fast-charging – plus upstream). To the left of the main port area there’s a K-Slot.

The rear

AC power input

The ports

The full capability of the monitor including the 165Hz refresh rate, HDR and Adaptive-Sync can be leveraged via either HDMI 2.0 or DP 1.2+ (for HDR the GPU must be compatible with at least DP 1.4). Note that Nvidia users can only use Adaptive-Sync (‘G-SYNC Compatible Mode’) via DisplayPort. The HDMI scaler on the monitor also supports upscaling to 3840 x 2160 (‘4K’ UHD) at various refresh rates up to 60Hz (and including 24Hz). Standard accessories include a DP cable, HDMI cable, USB cable and power cable.

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 a smooth surface texture. Smoother than quite a few other curved VA models we’ve used, in fact. This offers respectable glare handling whilst better preserving clarity and vibrancy compared to some matte screen surfaces. Combined with the smooth finish to the screen surface, there’s no obvious graininess – lighter content looks significantly smoother than it does on most matte screen surfaces.

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. As is usual for a panel of this type, the subpixels are a bit squat (less so than some VA models) with relatively thick black spaces above and below each row. This can contribute to slight static interlacing patterns, as we explore later. The monitor does not use partial subpixel rendering for the text and instead uses the entire subpixel. This avoids the text rendering issues of some models where text appears softer or otherwise not as clear as it should. We therefore had no subpixel-related concerns related to sharpness or text clarity.

Testing the presets

The monitor various ‘Picture Mode’ presets; ‘Standard’, ‘AORUS’, ‘FPS’, ‘RTS/RPG’, ‘Movie’, ‘Reader’, ‘sRGB’, ‘Custom 1’, ‘Custom 2’ and ‘Custom 3’. For the most part, these presets simply change various settings in the OSD and don’t achieve anything you couldn’t achieve with manual OSD adjustment yourself. In some cases they lock off certain settings as well. We’ll be focusing on a few presets and other settings in the OSD for this section, ones we deem have practical value or are interesting to analyse. The OSD video briefly looks at the others. The 3 numbered ‘Custom’ picture modes are useful as they give you full flexibility in the OSD and allow you to easily store and recall 3 different sets of settings. The exception to this is that individual colour channel changes (‘Color Temp.’ set to ‘User Define’) are applied universally and aren’t just tied to the specific ‘Custom’ preset you’re using.

The table below provides gamma and white point measurements taken using a Datacolor SpyderX Elite, alongside general observations. Our test system is based on Windows 10 and uses an Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti connected using the supplied DisplayPort cable. Additional testing was performed using an AMD Radeon RX 580 and also using HDMI 2.0, although observations for this table didn’t vary significantly between the GPUs or inputs. No additional monitor drivers or ICC profiles were specifically loaded. The screen was left to run for over 2 hours before readings were taken or observations made. Aside from our ‘Test Settings’, which involved various adjustments, assume factory defaults were used. The refresh rate was set to 165Hz in Windows, although this didn’t significantly affect the values or observations in this table. 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.

Finally, note that we upgraded the firmware to the latest available revision (‘F04’) using the OSD Sidekick utility available on Gigabyte’s website. This was a simple process that the software guides you through. You simply download a .bin file from Gigabyte, which contains the firmware, and use the OSD Sidekick software to apply it. You need to click the ‘About’ tab in the software, click ‘Browse’ (and select the .bin file you just downloaded) then press ‘Update’. You need a USB upstream cable connected to the monitor to use the software and perform the update.

Monitor Settings Gamma (central average) White point (kelvins) Notes
Gamma = OFF 2.2 7477K A very cool-tinted image but good depth overall and quite a vibrant look. Slight saturation losses towards the very edges and bottom of the screen, as low as we’ve seen from a VA panel. Gamma averages ‘2.2’, but is lower for dark shades and higher for bright shades. This lifts up visibility in dark areas somewhat (less so than adjusting ‘Black Equalizer’) so this setting could have utility for some.
Gamma 1 1.8 7281K As above but a significant lack of depth due to very low average gamma.
Gamma 2 2.0 7418K As above, slight increase in depth.
Gamma 3 (Factory Defaults) 2.2 7550K Similar to ‘Gamma = OFF’ but better depth for shades at the lower end.
Gamma 4 2.4 7698K As above but extra depth due to increased gamma.
Gamma 5 2.6 7852K As above with a further increase in gamma. The image appears quite striking and bold, with very poor detail levels and lack of distinction for darker shades.
Low Blue Light = 10 2.2 5875K A reasonably effective Low Blue Light (LBL) setting. This reduces the blue colour channel by a fair amount compared to default, giving a warmer appearance to the image and reducing blue light output from the monitor. The green channel remains quite strong, giving a moderate green tint to the image. Your eyes adjust a bit to this given time, but some imbalances remain.
Color Temperature = User Define 2.2 6356K A warmer look than factory defaults with a bit of a green tint.
Color Temperature = Warm 2.1 5282K An effective LBL – more so than setting ‘Low Blue Light’ to ‘10’ with other settings at default. The image appears significantly warmer than default and blue light output is decreased significantly. A greater decrease is achieved by also decreasing brightness levels. The green channel is reduced so the image doesn’t have a green tint and is well-balanced in that respect.
Picture Mode = Reader 2.2 6086K This setting combines a moderate ‘Low Blue Light’ level (7) with an increased default sharpness, reduced default brightness and changes to ‘Contrast’ and ‘Black Equalizer’. The image appears warm and sharp with significant blending together of darker shades.
Picture Mode = sRGB 2.2 6245K This is an sRGB emulation setting. Saturation is noticeably reduced for typical sRGB content, with the colour gamut now restricted to close to sRGB. The image has a slight green tint, although this is mild and your eyes readily adjust. The colour channels and many other manual adjustments are locked off (explored in the OSD video). Moderate brightness, not manually adjustable.
Test Settings (see below) 2.2 6487K The image appears quite vibrant, varied and well-balanced. Brightness is set to more comfortable levels as well, although individual preferences play an important role here.

Straight from the box the monitor provided a bright and cool-tinted image, but gave good tracking of the ‘2.2’ gamma curve and quite a vivid appearance to the image overall. The OSD provides good flexibility with gamma settings, allowing adjustment according to preferences and needs. An alternative ‘Gamma = OFF’ setting is perhaps most interesting as it averages ‘2.2’ gamma but is modified to give better low-end visibility rather than appropriate depth. Some users may prefer this (it also alleviates some ‘black crush’, which is a minor feature on this model explored later). The gamma curve under our ‘Test Settings’ is shown below, using the default ‘Gamma 3’ setting with close tracking to the desired ‘2.2’ curve. Given the intended uses of the monitor, inter-unit variation and pleasing performance following OSD tweaking alone we will not be providing any ICC profiles for this model or using them in the review.

Gamma 'Test Settings'

Gamma 'Test Settings'

The monitor also provided various Low Blue Light (LBL) settings. The main ‘Low Blue Light’ setting can be set to varying levels of effectiveness between ‘1’ (weakest effect) and ‘10’ (strongest effect). This is applied as a filter on top of other settings, including any changes you may make to the ‘Color Temp.’ setting. This could weaken or strengthen the effect, depending on adjustments made – reducing brightness is also important to minimise blue light output. Using the factory defaults aside from setting ‘LBL’ to ‘10’ gave a moderate reduction in blue light output. A greater reduction could be found using the alternative LBL setting, changing ‘Color Temperature’ to ‘Warm’. This also avoided the slight green tint of the main ‘Low Blue Light’ setting. We used this setting for our own personal viewing comfort in the evening, where blue light exposure should be minimised to avoid disruption to sleep hormones. It was not used during testing for the review, aside from that specifically involving the setting itself.

Test Settings

For our ‘Test Settings’ we reduced brightness and made some colour channel modifications. It’s important to remember that individual units and preferences vary, so these settings will not be optimal in all cases and are simply a suggestion to use as a base. Assume any setting not mentioned, including ‘Contrast’, was left at default. The numbered ‘Custom’ presets can be used to store settings as mentioned earlier, but be sure to cross-reference things with ‘Standard’ as the default settings not mentioned below may differ. We’ve also included the refresh rate used in Windows for most of the review and our preferred ‘Overdrive’ setting, just for reference. Note that these settings only apply to our SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) testing, which is the bulk of our review. HDR (High Dynamic Range) makes automatic adjustment to most settings, including brightness and colour channels. So they can’t be manually adjusted.


Picture Mode= Standard

Brightness= 26 (according to preferences and lighting)

Color Temperature = User Define

Red= 100

Green= 98

Blue= 95

Overdrive= Speed

FreeSync= On

Refresh rate (Windows setting)= 144Hz


Contrast and brightness

Contrast ratios

An X-Rite i1Display Pro was used to measure the luminance of white and black using a range of monitor settings. This includes the settings explored in the calibration section earlier on. From these values, static contrast ratios were calculated. The results are shown in the table below, with blue highlights indicating the results under our ‘Test Settings’ and with HDR active. Black highlights indicate the highest white luminance, lowest black luminance and highest contrast ratio recorded (HDR and ‘Aim Stabilizer’ deactivated). Assume any setting not mentioned was left at default, aside from the exceptions noted here or in the calibration section.


*HDR measurements were made using this YouTube HDR brightness test video, running full screen at ‘1080p 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 2362:1, ignoring the result at ‘0’ brightness where the colorimeter was unable to read the black level with sufficient precision. This is in-line with our expectations for the panel used, sufficient to give superior depth to dark shades compared to other LCD panel types without local dimming. Under our ‘Test Settings’ this increased to 2783:1, which is pleasing. The factory calibration involved more pronounced changes in colour channels than were required on our unit, whereas our ‘Test Settings’ were closer to neutral. Speaking of which, the maximum contrast we recorded with all colour channels in their neutral position (‘Color Temperature =User Define’, ‘100’ per channel) was 2962:1. So very close to the 3000:1 specified. Strong contrast was maintained with various other settings as well, with the lowest reading coming from ‘Reader’ where many changes are made in the OSD. The highest white luminance recorded on the table was 483 cd/m², whilst the minimum white luminance without loss of contrast was 43 cd/m². This gives a luminance adjustment range of 440 cd/m², which is good, with a fairly low minimum as well.

Activating HDR on the monitor did not yield any improvement to contrast as there is no local dimming support. In our testing we measured a contrast ratio that was about as high as seen with any settings under SDR, though (2900:1). A brightness of 464 cd/m² was recorded with a white patch surrounded by black as described below the table, exceeding the requirements for the VESA DisplayHDR 400 specification. The monitor also provides a ‘Dynamic Contrast’ feature that allows the backlight to adjust according to image brightness, as one single unit (no local dimming), for SDR content as well. It can be set between ‘1’ and ‘5’ with a higher setting simply increasing gamma – even ‘1’ increases this a fair bit compared to the setting being disabled. You can manually adjust the brightness which will cap the maximum luminance, so it will only dim from there for predominantly darker content. This flexibility is nice to have, although we prefer manual control of brightness and see this (as with other typical Dynamic Contrast settings) as a compromise if not local dimming is supported.

PWM (Pulse Width Modulation)

The CV27F uses DC (Direct Current) to dim the backlight and does not use PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) under any brightness setting. The backlight is therefore considered ‘flicker-free’, which will come as welcome news to users who are sensitive to flickering or worried about the side-effects of PWM usage. The exception to this is with the ‘Aim Stabilizer’ function active, as this is a strobe backlight function 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 moderate 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 so-called ‘VA glow’. This is a silverish-purple glow that appears towards the edges, particularly near the bottom corners of the screen from a normal viewing position. The ‘VA glow’ blooms out in a more obvious way from steeper angles, as shown in the viewing angles video later. As explored the ‘VA glow’ is quite low on this model from a normal viewing position, but it’s still present.

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 pleasing overall. The maximum luminance was recorded at ‘quadrant 5’ in the centre of the screen (173.4 cd/m²). The greatest deviation from this occurred at ‘quadrant 2’ above the central region (159.5 cd/m², which is 11% dimmer). The average deviation between each quadrant and the brightest recorded point was 5%, which is good. 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 good, with no significant deviations recorded. The greatest deviation occurred towards the top right (DeltaE 2.2). It’s again important to remember that individual units vary when it comes this and other aspects of 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, but we didn’t observe anything obvious on our CV27F sample. There was minor patchiness and very faint striations for some shades, but nothing obvious or distinct.

Contrast in games and movies

The monitor provided a strong contrast performance overall on Battlefield V. Darker areas such as building dimly lit building interiors had respectable depth. Not the sort of ‘inkiness’ you might get on screens with much stronger contrast (e.g. OLED), especially if viewed in a dim room, but much better than provided by non-VA LCDs without effective local dimming. There was a small amount of ‘VA glow’ towards the bottom of the screen in particular from a normal viewing position. This slightly lightened up darker shades, although was quite subtle. Far less noticeable and with less of an effect on the image than ‘IPS glow’ and not as ‘atmosphere breaking’. There was a small amount of ‘black crush’, but about as little as we’ve seen on a VA model. This is whereby some of the darkest shades (close to black) in the central region of the screen appear even darker than intended when viewed from a normal viewing position, so they blend into a black mass. This masks some detail, whereas observing these shades closer to the edges of the screen reveals a more appropriate level of detail. There was also a bit of extra (unintended) detail towards the bottom of the screen, but nothing extreme. Viewing from sharper viewing angles revealed significantly more unintended detail. Brighter shades appeared relatively smooth thanks to the smooth and light screen surface, without any clear graininess.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a title that demands a strong contrast performance to look its best, with plenty of dark caves and tombs and suchlike to explore. The monitor provided a good atmospheric look to dark scenes on this title. ‘VA glow’ and ‘black crush’ again came into play, but were both minor. Brighter shades contrasted well with darker surroundings and appeared relatively smooth without clear graininess, courtesy of the smooth and light matte screen surface. We also observed the film Star Wars: The Last Jedi, another title that looks its best on monitors with strong contrast. High-contrast scenes looked quite cinematic with good distinction between bright elements (such as explosions) and dark elements (such as the deep depths of space), in reasonable lighting. The ‘VA glow’ was relatively subtle, and the ‘black crush’ didn’t really detract from the overall atmosphere either. Overall detail levels were appropriate, without obvious ‘banding’ or ‘blockiness’ due to excessive detail levels. This would usually be caused by inappropriate gamma (too low) and would also bring out ‘compression artifacts’ in streamed content so they aren’t as blended as they could be. There was a little extra detail towards the bottom of the screen from a normal viewing position, due to some viewing angle related gamma shifts. But these were quite minor, compared to some VA models and certainly when compared to vertical gamma shifts on TN models.

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, with distinct brightness steps in all cases.
  • Performance on the black level test was quite good overall. The first few blocks blended into the background readily, although that’s normal for a monitor tracking the ‘2.2’ gamma curve properly. The final 3 blocks on the third row were somewhat less distinct than they ideally would be, due to ‘black crush’. But they could still be distinguished from the background. When moving your head, you could see the brightness and tone of blocks readily shift, something we dub an ‘oil slick effect’. This is due to perceived gamma shifts related to viewing angle and is always observed on a VA panel. We didn’t observe any obvious dithering. Some slight signs of temporal dithering for some brighter shades, but this was well-masked.
  • Performance on the white saturation test was strong. All blocks were distinctly visible against the background. Even the often-invisible final box was visible, although faint. There was no real graininess from the screen surface to mask it.
  • The greyscale gradient appeared smooth without obvious banding or dithering.

Colour reproduction

Colour gamut

The colour gamut of the CV27F (red triangle) is compared with the sRGB (green triangle) and DCI-P3 RGB (blue triangle) colour spaces in the image below. The monitor comprehensively covers the sRGB colour space (100%) with moderate extension beyond this. 90% of the DCI-P3 colour space is covered, exactly matching the value specified by the manufacturer and in-line with the near-term target for HDR and specifically the HDR10 standard. Although not shown in the comparison, as it isn’t a target colour space for the product, the monitor offers 84% Adobe RGB coverage. The colour gamut of this model gives the monitor the potential to output all shades within the sRGB colour space, with an extra hint of vibrancy and saturation.

Colour gamut 'Test Settings'

Colour gamut 'Test Settings'


The monitor also provides an sRGB emulation mode (setting ‘Picture Mode’ to ‘sRGB’ in the ‘Picture’ section of the OSD). This significantly cuts down the gamut, offering a good match to the sRGB reference space (99% sRGB). There is a small amount of over-extension in the green to red region, but this is significantly reduced compared to the native gamut. As pointed out earlier, the brightness and colour channels are locked when using this setting, which isn’t ideal. It can be useful if you require an output closer to sRGB for non colour-managed applications. But if you’re calibrating and profiling the monitor with your own colorimeter or similar device then stick to other modes which use the native gamut, for greater flexibility.

Colour gamut 'sRGB'

Colour gamut 'sRGB'


AMD GPU users have an interesting alternative available to them which essentially gives them an sRGB emulation mode without these OSD setting restrictions. Rather than setting the monitor to ‘sRGB’, you leave it in a mode that gives you the full native gamut and setting flexibility (brightness, colour channels etc.) and make a small graphics driver tweak. You simply need to open ‘Radeon Settings’, navigate to ‘Display’ – ‘Color’ (little icon towards the top right) and press the ‘Color Temperature’ toggle so it reads ‘Automatic’ instead of ‘6500K’. The gamut below was taken under with our ‘Test Settings’ combined with this small driver tweak. We recorded 98% sRGB coverage using this setting, without clear over-extension – a tight match to the sRGB colour space.

Colour gamut AMD 'Automatic' setting

Colour gamut AMD 'Automatic' setting


Colour in games and movies

The monitor outputted colours in a rather vibrant and varied way on Battlefield V. The fairly generous colour gamut injected a bit of extra vibrancy and saturation to this content, which as usual (for SDR content) is designed with the sRGB colour space in mind. Unlike a digital saturation enhancement (such as bumping up Nvidia Digital Vibrance or increasing ‘Color Vibrance’ in the OSD), strong shade variety is maintained and the limits of saturation are increased. That’s because the colour gamut itself is expanded and shades within it maintain good spacing, rather than things simply being pulled closer to the edge of the gamut without the gamut being expanded. The environments in the game showcased a good array of natural-looking earthy browns and woody tones and a good palette of greens, from lush and deep to more muted pastel shades. The colour gamut lifted up the red hue of some of the brown tones a bit too strongly, but didn’t cause anything extreme like creating a Martian landscape. Vibrant elements such as roaring fires and brightly painted objects stood out well. Not in a cartoonish and heavily oversaturated way, but in a vivid and varied way. There were some saturation losses due to perceived gamma and colour shifts when observing the extreme edges of the screen and bottom of the screen. These were rather subtle, about as subtle as we’ve seen on a VA model and vastly less pronounced than the vertical shifts on TN models. The image therefore maintained respectable richness throughout the screen rather than suddenly appearing ‘washed out’ in some areas.

We made similar observations on Shadow of the Tomb Raider. The environments were again presented in a fairly vibrant but still largely natural-looking way. Some of the pastel greens appeared somewhat lusher than intended, although they were very much distinct from the deeper and lusher shades. Earthy browns had good neutrality, if a bit red in places, which skin tones on the game (including Lara’s) mainly appeared as a slightly more saturated than intended version of the shade. This was slight oversaturation, not an extreme (sunburnt or heavily tanned) appearance for Lara. These sorts of subtle pastel shades were perhaps most affected by the saturation losses peripherally, due to some viewing angle related weaknesses. They appeared more a bit more muted towards the very edges and bottom of the screen, but even here the shift wasn’t dramatic from a normal viewing position (~70cm from the screen in our case). These saturation losses become more pronounced if you’re sitting closer to the screen and are also exaggerated when viewing the screen from a decentralised angle.

Further observations were made using the animated TV series Futurama. With large areas of individual shades covering the screen, this is a particularly unforgiving test for colour consistency and highlights any weaknesses very readily. Overall, the series was given the sort of look it craved. An excellent variety of shades, including subtle pastel shades, deep shades and eye-catching neon shades. The latter group of shades was displayed with a good vivid look, whilst the more muted shades showed good variety and relatively weaker saturation. There were some shifts in saturation, more noticeable for some shades such as certain pastel skin tones. But they were fairly subtle overall, particularly towards horizontally. As with our observations in games, these shifts were more pronounced if you sit closer to the screen or observe from a decentralised angle. From our preferred viewing position (~70cm, sitting centrally) they were about as low as we’ve seen from a VA model. And significantly lower than on TN models, considering their vertical shifts.

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 bluish purple overall, with a stronger pink hue towards the bottom and sides of the screen. The pink hue shifted readily alongside head movement.
  • The red block appeared a rich red throughout, except towards the bottom of the screen where it appeared a less saturated (pinkish) red.
  • The green block appeared a fairly well-saturated green chartreuse throughout. There was a little extra yellowing towards the bottom.
  • The blue block appeared a good consistent deep blue throughout.
  • The Lagom text appeared a blended grey with a slight green tint to the striping in a large central cone and a bit further up the screen, in-line with your eye position. Further down and towards the sides of the screen there was orange and ultimately a dark red striping to the text. The cone of more blended greenish grey shifted readily alongside head movement. There were no obvious flashes between brighter green and 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 video below shows the Lagom text test, a mixed desktop background and dark desktop background from a variety of viewing angles. For the mixed image you can see some shifts in colour and contrast, which is more pronounced as the angle becomes steeper. There isn’t any ‘colour inversion’ as you’d observe on a TN model vertically and the shifts are not as extreme. The final third of the video shows a dark desktop background and highlights ‘VA glow’ mentioned earlier. This is not particularly strong from centralised viewing angles, but blooms out more noticeably from sharper 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 bands of a slightly lighter and slightly darker version of the intended shade. We did not observe any dynamic ‘interlace pattern artifacts’, although we did observe some faint static interlace patterns in places. These were most noticeable on some orange and blue shades, plus some medium and lighter grey shades. These were not particularly obvious and most users shouldn’t find them bothersome – or necessarily notice them at all.

We also observed some flickering (pixel inversion) issues, possibly related to imperfections in the voltage control of the monitor. These could be observed when close to walls on some darker scenes in games. The release notes for the firmware update we had running at the time of review (F04) specifically mentioned that some backlight issues were fixed. It’s possible that some but not all instances of this sort of thing were looked at. It occurs if the brightness of the monitor is set above ‘5’ (>55 cd/m² or so) and didn’t seem to be affected by other things (including refresh rate, ‘FreeSync’ or ‘Overdrive’ setting). We’ve made Gigabyte aware of this and hopefully it can be addressed in a future firmware update, which will be provided for users to apply themselves via the OSD Sidekick software. The issue is highlighted in the section of video review below and as noted isn’t something we generally found bothersome in a well-lit room.


Responsiveness

Input lag

We used a small tool called SMTT 2.0 and a sensitive camera to compare the CV27F’s latency with a screen of known latency. To help maximise accuracy, over 30 repeat readings were taken. Using the method, we measured 4.35ms (a little under 3/4s of a frame @165Hz) of input lag. The status of the ‘FreeSync’ setting in the OSD made no measurable difference to this result and neither did setting the monitor to our preferred refresh rate (144Hz). This value is influenced both by the element of input lag you ‘feel’ (signal delay) and the element you ‘see’ (pixel responsiveness). It indicates a low signal delay which shouldn’t bother most users. 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 surrounding monitor responsiveness. Chief amongst these is the concept of perceived blur, which is contributed to by both the pixel responsiveness of the monitor and the movement of your eyes as you track motion on the screen. This second factor is dominant on modern monitors, although slower than optimal pixel responses are still an important contributor. We also look at ‘pursuit photography’, an image capture technique which uses a moving camera to capture motion on a screen in a way that reflects both elements of perceived blur.

The images below are pursuit photographs taken using the UFO Motion Test for ghosting, where the UFO moves 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 help highlight key weaknesses. The monitor was tested at 60Hz (directly below), 100Hz, 144Hz and 165Hz with all of the ‘Overdrive’ settings tested; ‘Picture Quality’, ‘Balance’ and ‘Speed’. Although not documented here, 120Hz behaved some way between the tested refresh rates (100Hz and 144Hz), as you might expect. All rows of the UFO Motion Test were used, to show a range of pixel transitions between various shades. The final columns show some reference screens for comparison, where possible. The first is the LG 32GK850G, a relatively fast VA model using what we consider its optimal response time setting (plus G-SYNC active in the graphics driver, which speeds up its pixel responses). The second is the ViewSonic XG240R, a fast and well-tuned TN model (particularly at high refresh rates) that shows how things look where pixel responsiveness isn’t really a limiting factor.

Perceived blur, 60Hz

At 60Hz, shown above, the UFO appears relatively softly focused without clear detail. This reflects significant perceived blur due to eye (camera) movement. You can see this sort of soft and unfocused look to the object itself on the reference shots as well. There are also various amounts of trailing behind the UFOs, caused by weaknesses in pixel responsiveness. The greatest weaknesses in pixel responsiveness are evident using the ‘Picture Quality’ setting. There’s a bold and heavy trailing behind the object, giving the UFO a distinct smeary appearance when it’s in motion. The ‘Balance’ setting cuts down on this somewhat, although some weaknesses still remain for the dark background (top row) and to a lesser extent medium background (middle row). The ‘Strong’ setting removes this conventional trailing, but there’s now some fairly strong overshoot (inverse ghosting) evident. Including some bright ‘halo’ trailing for the medium background and particularly the light background, plus some inky-looking overshoot for the dark background. The optimal setting here would depend on personal preferences for speed vs. overshoot, with either the ‘Balance’ or ‘Speed’ setting being used. The LG 32GK850G reference appeared some way between the ‘Balance’ and ‘Speed’ settings here and was better optimised overall at 60Hz. The following image shows how things look with the refresh rate bumped up to 100Hz.

Perceived blur, 100Hz

At 100Hz, shown above, the UFO is quite a bit narrower with sharper focus. This reflects a significant reduction in perceived blur due to eye movement. Varying degrees of trailing can again be seen behind the object. This is strongest with the ‘Picture Quality’ setting. The ‘Balance’ setting cuts it down a bit, but there’s still significant bold trailing behind the UFOs, especially for the dark and medium background – it gives the UFO a rather smeary appearance during motion. The ‘Speed’ setting cuts this down significantly, so a little remains for the dark and medium backgrounds. It’s replaced with a little overshoot in places, including some ‘shadow trailing’ for the dark background. The light background shows some reasonably strong overshoot in the form of ‘halo’ trailing. We’d consider the ‘Speed’ setting optimal here. The reference screen, unsurprisingly as it’s a well-tuned high refresh rate TN model, gives a ‘cleaner’ performance here with very little overshoot or conventional trailing to speak of. The image below shows what things look like with a further bump up in refresh rate to 144Hz.

Perceived blur, 144Hz

At 144Hz, above, the UFO appears slightly narrower and more sharply focused. This indicates a further decrease in perceived blur due to eye movement. The overall pixel response behaviour is fairly similar to 100Hz, although the trailing from the weaker than optimal pixel transitions extends further backwards and appears bolder in places. This is due to the increased pixel response requirements of the higher refresh rate. The ‘Balance’ setting is now clearly sub-optimal in terms of pixel response performance, with significant trailing for the dark and medium background and even some ‘powdery’ trailing for the light background. The ‘Speed’ setting removes a lot of this, although some weaknesses remain. The light background shows bright ‘halo’ trailing, although this is subdued compared to lower refresh rates. We again consider the ‘Speed’ setting optimal here. Both reference shots show improved performance, though, with less conventional trailing and lower overshoot. As far as high refresh rate VA models go there are certainly much slower examples out there than what’s seen with the Gigabyte, though! Below you can see how things appear with a slight bump up in refresh rate to 165Hz.

Perceived blur, 165Hz

At 165Hz, above, the UFO appears with slightly clearer internal detailing. This indicates a slight decrease in perceived blur due to eye movement – nothing major, it’s only an additional 21Hz. The overall pixel response behaviour is very similar to 144Hz in this test. We again prefer the ‘Speed’ setting here. The ‘Balance’ setting is simply not effective enough, giving a lot of ‘heavy powdery’ and ‘smeary’ trailing and not really putting the high refresh rate to good use. This isn’t a clear-cut choice for everyone, though, due to the additional overshoot using the ‘Speed’ setting. We feel a setting some way between these two might be preferable, but of the available options we’d take the faster of the two. Although not clear in this particular test, we observed some overdrive artifacts at 165Hz which were not evident to the same extent at lower refresh rates such as 144Hz. We describe these using in-game testing shortly, but they were sufficient for us to prefer setting the monitor to 144Hz rather than 165Hz.

As well as increasing refresh rate to minimise perceived blur due to eye movement, the monitor offers an alternative with its ‘Aim Stabilizer’ feature. This is a strobe backlight setting that causes the backlight to pulse at a frequency matching the refresh rate of the display – either 100Hz, 120Hz, 144Hz or 165Hz. By its very nature, this mode causes the backlight to flicker at a rate matching the refresh rate of the display – individual sensitivity to this flickering varies. Some users may notice accelerated eye fatigue when using this setting even if they aren’t actively noticing any flickering. The pursuit photographs below were taken with the monitor set to 100Hz using its ‘Aim Stabilizer’ feature. A few reference screens are also shown for comparison, using their respective strobe backlight settings at 100Hz. The AOC C24G1 using MBR (Motion Blur Reduction) and the Dell S2417DG using ULMB (‘Ultra Low Motion Blur’).

Perceived blur, 100Hz 'Aim Stabilizer'

With ‘Aim Stabilizer’, you can see that the object itself appears significantly sharper with clearer internal detailing. This reflects a significant decrease in perceived blur due to eye movement, which is the main aim of a strobe backlight setting such as this. However; you can also see significant overshoot behind the object. The overshoot is split into fragments due to the strobing nature of the backlight. This overshoot is stronger with a greater number of fragments compared to the reference shots. The pursuit photographs below were taken with the monitor set to 165Hz. Note that refresh rates between 100Hz and 165Hz were tested but are not documented here – they were some way between the two in terms of the trailing behaviour, generally closer in appearance to 165Hz (below) compared to 100Hz (above).

Perceived blur, 165Hz 'Aim Stabilizer'

The object itself now appears with excellent sharp internal detailing, with the notches on each UFO segments distinctly visible. There is again some overshoot behind the UFOs, somewhat lower than at 100Hz. That’s in part because it’s somewhat masked by bold repetitions of the object itself, particularly for the medium background. These repetitions are due primarily to the pixel responses not keeping up with the rigorous demands of the refresh cycle. The all-encompassing term ‘strobe crosstalk’ is used to describe this fragmented trailing around the object (behind in these examples – but it can also be in front). 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. This was also evident at 100Hz (and other refresh rates not documented), but displaced slightly so it didn’t coincide with any of the pursuit photos taken for this test. The image below shows pursuit photographs running from the top to bottom regions of the screen, with the monitor set to 165Hz and using ‘Aim Stabilizer’.

Strobe Crosstalk, 165Hz 'Aim Stabilizer'

You can see quite a bit of strobe crosstalk, varying in its appearance at different points of the screen. Further up the screen there is some quite bold strobe crosstalk in front of the UFOs. Further down and towards the central region it appears behind the UFO, whilst towards the bottom you can see strong strobe crosstalk both in front and behind the UFO. We certainly didn’t find the overall strobe backlight performance to be very ‘clean’ on this model, as we explore with subjective in-game testing shortly. Whilst the strobe crosstalk was somewhat reduced at lower refresh rates, particularly 100Hz, it was still noticeable in places and the increasingly obvious overshoot was quite distracting to us as well. This all had implications for the overall motion clarity of the image.

Responsiveness in games and movies

On Battlefield V, where the frame rate kept up with the 165Hz refresh rate, the monitor provided strong fluidity. 2.75 times as much visual information is being provided every second as a 60Hz monitor or this monitor running at 60Hz. This provides an excellent ‘connected feel’, which describes the precision and fluidity you feel when interacting with your character on the game and the game world. The low input lag helps in this respect as well, although this isn’t a feeling that low input lag alone can replicate. In addition, the perceived blur due to eye movement is significantly reduced – much as demonstrated earlier using Test UFO. The step up from 144Hz to 165Hz is not dramatic, though. There is a slight increase in ‘connected feel’ and a slight decrease in overall perceived blur, but there was that issue with patterned overshoot artifacts that we raised earlier. Specifically, you could see overshoot with a clear interlaced pattern of alternating darker and lighter components in places, giving a jagged appearance to some of the overshoot. This was most pronounced if the monitor is set to 165Hz, even if the frame rate dips with Adaptive-Sync active and hence the refresh rate also dips. With the monitor set to 144Hz or 120Hz it is still there to a degree, but is much more tolerable and less ‘in your face’. We therefore much preferred keeping the monitor at 144Hz to avoid this issue.

Most of the pixel transitions were performed rapidly for a VA panel, using our preferred ‘Speed’ setting. Especially where medium and lighter shades were dominant (daylight maps, which are common on BFV), the monitor certainly didn’t give an ‘uncompetitive’ feeling and looked and felt rather snappy overall. There was a bit of ‘light powdery’ trailing in places for some of these transitions, but this was minor and not very widespread. There were some more pronounced weaknesses to be aware of for some other pixel transitions, however. Some were performed noticeably slower than optimal, particularly where dark shades dominated. Strafing past a tree trunk at twilight or under heavy fog, for example, produced a ‘heavy’ powdery trailing. For some transitions this had a somewhat ‘smeary’ quality to it and there was what we call ‘break-up trailing’. Whereby some constituent shades contained in the object or background appear to ‘leach out’ in a slightly colourful way. Like wetting a page with some dark coloured water-soluble ink on it, with some reddish or purple hues separating out from the ink. This was quite well-contained on this model overall and there weren’t really any instances of ‘extended smeary’ trailing with a smoke-like appearance.

There were some more noticeable examples of overshoot where many darker shades were displayed as well. Moderately strong ‘halo’ trails in places which stood out due to being significantly brighter than the object or background colour. As well as some ‘dirty’ trailing that was darker than the object or background colour. This wasn’t what we’d call ‘extreme’ overshoot and not everybody would find it bothersome – but users who are sensitive to it certainly might. We’d certainly say this was one of the faster high refresh rate VA models we’ve tested, although not necessarily the fastest or the one with the ‘cleanest’ (lowest overshoot) transitions. We’d say it’s most similar to the AOC C24G1 using its ‘Strong’ overdrive setting, although not quite as well-balanced due to having both some more noticeable overshoot and some more noticeable slower than optimal pixel transitions (causing the ‘break-up trailing’). That’s a model that we’ve gathered a lot of user feedback on, including from competitive gamers – and for such uses the ‘Strong’ overdrive setting on that one generally goes down well. The section of the video review below highlights some of the strengths and weaknesses in the monitor’s pixel overdrive performance, again using BFV as an example.



We don’t have much to add to the fairly extensive analysis above using Shadow of the Tomb Raider as an example. Although this title frequently showcased darker shades due to it having many dark or heavily shaded locations. These, naturally, brought out some of the slower than optimal pixel transitions and the instances of more noticeable overshoot. We didn’t actually find this detracted too much from the gameplay on the whole and found that, even though the performance wasn’t a ‘clean’ as it could’ve been, there weren’t the sort of extensive weaknesses found on some high refresh rate VA models. We didn’t get the kind of dizzying sensation or clear increases in overall perceived blur that some models provide. We also tested a range of video content, including 24-30fps videos on Netflix and suchlike and 60fps YouTube videos. For the lower frame rate content there was slight overshoot in places, but nothing obvious. The frame rate itself was definitely the key limiting factor here and things really didn’t look markedly different to how they would on a technically much faster and overshoot-free monitor. For the 60fps content there was some slightly more noticeable overshoot in places, but with the monitor running at 144Hz (or 120Hz, if you prefer, due to the even division of 60fps) this was fairly tame overall. Sensitivity to overshoot varies, so if you find it too much you might consider using the ‘Balance’ setting instead. But you’d then need to contend with some slower than optimal pixel transitions, even for 60fps content – refer to the pursuit photographs earlier. Even with the overshoot, we preferred sticking to the ‘Speed’ setting when the monitor was set to relatively high refresh rates.

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 CV27F supports FreeSync via DP and HDMI on compatible GPUs and systems. More specifically, ‘FreeSync 2’ is supported by the monitor, encompassing HDR support (this feature is not AMD-specific) and a relatively generous effective range of operation. Note that HDR can be activated (at the same time as FreeSync) via DP 1.2+ or HDMI 2.0. If fully installed, AMD drivers feature Radeon Settings, which makes activation of the technology very simple and something that usually occurs automatically. First make sure that you have ‘FreeSync’ set to ‘ON’ in the ’Gaming’ section of the OSD. You should then make sure the GPU driver is setup correctly to use FreeSync, so open ‘AMD Radeon Settings’ and click on ‘Display’. You should then ensure that the first slider, ‘AMD FreeSync’, is set to ‘On’. If you hover over this, it will also report the variable refresh rate display supported by the display.

Enable FreeSync

The Gigabyte AORUS supports a variable refresh rate range of 48 – 165Hz. That means that if the game is running between 48fps and 165fps, the monitor will adjust its refresh rate to match. When the frame rate rises above 165fps, the monitor will stay at 165Hz 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 165fps, 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 >165fps). 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 48Hz (48fps) 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.

VSync is configured in the ‘Gaming’ section of ‘Radeon Settings’, where it is referred to as ‘Wait for Vertical Refresh’. You can either configure this globally under ‘Global Settings’ or for each game individually. 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. The final option, ‘Enhanced Sync’, is a relatively new addition to the driver. 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 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. 162fps) 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 enable ‘Refresh Rate’ under ‘AORUS Info’ in the ‘GameAssist’ 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.

FreeSync – the experience

We used this monitor whilst playing a range of game titles, with FreeSync active. As usual we found the experience homogeneous across the different game titles and indeed any issues identified with FreeSync in one title but not another would indicate an issue with the game or GPU driver rather than the monitor. We’ll therefore just focus on one title for this section; Battlefield V. With the flexibility offered in the graphics options, it was possible to test a large range of frame rates and therefore the full range of refresh rates supported on this model. The Radeon RX 580 used in our test system was able to maintain a fairly solid 165fps (or 144fps using our preferred 144Hz setting) with graphics settings reduced quite far. There were still dips a bit below this where action intensified. These slight dips were far more palatable with FreeSync enabled, as without it they’d result it obvious tearing (VSync off) or obvious stuttering (VSync on). This stuttering is obvious to us, at least – but sensitivity to this sort of thing varies.

With further increases to graphics settings and frame rate hovering closer to 100fps, FreeSync still did its thing to get rid of tearing and stuttering from frame rate and refresh rate mismatches. A very nice bonus in our view. There was an increase in perceived blur and decrease in connected feel from the drop in frame rate – that is not something FreeSync can address and it’s still beneficial to have a higher frame rate where possible. Also noticeable was an increase in overshoot intensity using our preferred ‘Speed’ setting for ‘Overdrive’. At 100fps or so this increase was noticeable to us and there were some stand-out examples of bright and colourful ‘halo’ trailing and dark ‘dirty’ trailing that were quite a bit more obvious than at much higher frame rates. As frame rate dropped further, the overshoot intensified further. It wasn’t as extreme as we’ve seen on some models but was still clearly noticeable to us (sensitivity varies). The alternative would be to use the ‘Balance’ overdrive setting, but there are then some widespread weaknesses in pixel responsiveness – even when your frame rate and refresh rate is well into the double digits and 100fps is a distant memory.

The reason for this increase in overshoot, which is common on FreeSync models, is that the pixel overdrive is tuned with the maximum refresh rate of the monitor in mind. As refresh rate drops, either because you’ve selected a lower static refresh rate or because your frame rate drops and you’ve got FreeSync active, the pixel overdrive should really be re-tuned. The voltage tuning in the overdrive circuit for 144Hz is very different to much lower refresh rates. This is something G-SYNC models (with the module) handle better as they employ ‘variable overdrive’, which slackens off the aggressiveness of the pixel overdrive appropriately as refresh rate reduces. For frame rate dips below 48fps, the monitor will stick to a multiple of the frame rate with its refresh rate – something AMD calls LFC (Low Framerate Compensation). This worked effectively to reduce tearing and stuttering. There was a brief stuttering when this activated, but nothing extreme and not something users should worry about unless they’re frequently going above or below the LFC boundary. A final point we’d like to make is that we observed slight momentary flickering following large fluctuations (generally large drops) in frame rate, regardless of whether LFC is being used or not. This is widely observed on VA models and certainly not unique to this one.

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 CV27F, you need to connect the monitor up via DisplayPort and enable ‘FreeSync’ in the ‘Gaming’ 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 in not validated as G-SYNC Compatible.” This means Nvidia hasn’t specifically tested and validated the display, not that it doesn’t work. This model worked properly using Adaptive-Sync (G-SYNC compatible mode) on our Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti, offering an experience that was very similar to using AMD FreeSync. This included support for HDR whilst Adaptive-Sync was active. A slight difference is that the floor of operation appeared to be 65Hz (65fps) rather than 48Hz (48fps). However; an LFC-like technology was supported, with the monitor keeping at a multiple of the frame rate with its refresh rate. If anything this was preferable to having the refresh rate dip below 65Hz due to the even more extreme overshoot that would introduce. Although, even at 65Hz or anything near it, we’d still describe the overshoot as strong in places using the ‘Speed’ setting of the OSD. As noted in the FreeSync section, pixel overdrive tuning for a broad range of refresh rates is certainly something that Nvidia G-SYNC models (with a module) handle better than this one.

Our suggestions regarding use of VSync also apply, but obviously you’re using Nvidia Control Panel rather than 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 ‘Refresh Rate’ under ‘AORUS Info’ in the ‘GameAssist’ section of the OSD to see if the technology is working. This will rapidly adjust as frame rate fluctuates, whereas if Adaptive-Sync isn’t being used it will stay at the static refresh rate you’ve selected.

Aim Stabilizer

Earlier in the review, we introduced the ‘Aim Stabilizer’ feature, its principles of operation and how it performs using specific tests. When using ‘Aim Stabilizer’ or any strobe backlight feature, it’s essential that your frame rate exactly lines up with the refresh rate of the display. If that isn’t the case, you’re left with extremely obvious stuttering or juddering, which stands out because there’s very little perceived blur due to eye movement to mask it. For some transitions there’s a significant amount of bright ‘halo’ overshoot trailing, with clear jagged interlacing patterns. We tested a range of game titles using the setting and also tested it at a range of refresh rates, but here we’ll focus on Battlefield V at a solid 165fps and the monitor set to 165Hz. As noted earlier, lower refresh rates (with matching frame rates) didn’t really improve things and you had even more obvious overshoot to contend with. Coupled with strobe crosstalk, a repetition of some objects behind or in front of them, the overshoot was detrimental to overall motion clarity. We also observed some fairly obvious flashes and green and magenta when observing lighter shades, especially slender bright object. It’s not uncommon to see this to a degree with strobe backlight implementations, especially on models with generous colour gamuts. But we found it quite noticeable on this model.

In addition to these issues, the backlight flickering (matching the refresh rate of the display) could bother sensitive users. We preferred the normal flicker-free operation of the backlight in general and found that less fatiguing visually, although sensitivity to flickering varies. If a user can manage to look past these issues, plus is fine with the locked brightness at a moderate value, there is some advantage to be had in terms of reduction in perceived blur from the strobe backlight setting. Objects remain more detailed and more sharply focussed, giving a nice competitive edge which some users might find appealing. Whilst this mode certainly has utility, we didn’t find this to be a particularly ‘clean’ or flexible strobe backlight implementation and found it visually uncomfortable in many respects.

HDR (High Dynamic Range)

The ideal HDR monitor is able to distinctly output very deep dark shades and very bright light shades on the screen at the same time. It’s also able to display an excellent range of shades between these extremes, with a nuanced variety of dark, medium and light shades. A key to such output is precise control of the illumination, something OLED or other backlightless technologies excel at. For LCDs, a complex backlighting solution with many dimming zones is useful. Hundreds or more dimming zones in the form of an FALD (Full Array Local Dimming) solution, for example. Precise control of illumination enables the monitor to display intricate mixtures of light and dark content. Some sections of the screen can be brightly illuminated, giving good ‘pop’ to bright shades, whilst other sections of the screen can be very dimly lit to maintain good depth and atmosphere for dark shades. HDR is about more than just contrast, though – the output of a large range of colours is also important. The ultimate goal is coverage of a massive colour gamut known as Rec. 2020, whilst a more achievable near-term aim is for a monitor to cover at least 90% DCI-P3 (a Digital Cinema Initiatives standard colour space). Finally, HDR makes use of 10-bit+ precision per channel, so it’s desirable for the monitor to support (at least) 10-bits per subpixel.

It is specifically the HDR10 pipeline which is currently used on monitors at the moment and the common standard supported most widely in games and other applications. For most games and other full screen applications that support HDR, the Gigabyte AORUS CV27F automatically switches into its HDR operating mode. You’ll know HDR is active on the monitor as if you go into the OSD and navigate to a section other than ‘Gaming’ you will see ‘HDR ON’ listed towards the top left. On newer versions of Windows 10, 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. Occasionally you may find HDR activates or deactivates incorrectly in a game the first time it switches – the image will look clearly wrong and blown out if this happens. Simply ‘alt-tabbing’ out and back into the application or switching the HDR off/on again in the game will solve this. 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 simply simply acts as a digital brightness slider, so you lose but never gain contrast by adjusting it. Regardless of what this was set to, the image appeared to lack some depth and contrast and was noticeably over-sharp. So we’d recommend only activating HDR in Windows if you’re about to specifically use an HDR application that requires it, and have it deactivated when viewing normal SDR content on the monitor.

Windows HD Color settings

Although our testing is focused on HDR PC gaming, our observations also apply to HDR movie content and running HDR on a compatible games console. The experience is dictated and, in many respects limited, by the capabilities of the screen itself. We tested a range of titles under HDR, but will simply be focusing on two titles in this section that we know offer good HDR performance on screens with a good HDR implementation; Battlefield V and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Under HDR, the settings that would usually appear in the ‘Picture Mode’ menu (including brightness, sharpness and colour channel adjustments) are locked off. This is quite usual for an HDR monitor as such things are (supposed to be) carefully controlled to a required standard with close coordination between the content, the GPU and the monitor. This was different to the AD27QD we tested, where users were given far too much flexibility to change settings. Also unlike the AD27QD, the HDR experience was quite similar on the AMD and Nvidia GPU we tested.

The Gigabyte AORUS CV27F is VESA DisplayHDR 400 certified. This is the lowest HDR level which VESA will certify for. It means that only a very basic HDR experience is provided, with some but certainly not all desirable HDR boxes ticked. One area where the AORUS achieves and actually exceeds the VESA DisplayHDR 400 requirements is colour gamut, with 90% DCI-P3 specified by the manufacturer. We were able to confirm 90% DCI-P3 coverage using our colorimeter, as shown in the gamut representation below. The red triangle shows the monitor’s colour gamut, whilst the blue triangle is the DCI-P3 and green triangle sRGB colour spaces. On this point alone, the monitor is technically at the level required for VESA DisplayHDR 1000 certification – but there are of course other boxes that have to be ticked for that as well. Because DCI-P3 is the near-term standard game developers and HDR movie directors have in mind when creating HDR content, it makes sense to have good coverage of this colour space for HDR purposes.

Colour gamut 'Test Settings'

Colour gamut 'Test Settings'

When running in HDR, a sharpening filter is applied, which is moderate but not extreme on this model. We’d prefer if this could be adjusted or removed and find it more noticeable than this sort of filtering applied to models with significantly higher pixel density. Although we still didn’t find it as annoying as we sometimes do with such things. The colour gamut was put to good use under HDR. We observed some oversaturation earlier in the review under SDR (content targeting the sRGB colour space), for example certain greens appearing with too strong a yellow hue and woody tones appearing a bit too red. This is curtailed under HDR as the DCI-P3 colour space is targeted, with environments on both titles appearing rich and natural. There was plenty of vibrancy where it was warranted, for example brightly painted pottery, striking purple flowers and roaring orange flames. Some colourful licks of paint, such as bright blue boats and pea green painted farm machinery were also nice and vivid. These shades sit beyond the boundaries of the sRGB colour space, so the stronger saturation is applied appropriately rather than universally under HDR.

The monitor supports 10-bit colour via 8-bit + FRC. The enhanced precision used under HDR provided a nuanced variety of dark shades, giving shaded regions a more believable look. This was very different to simply raising the gamma and lightening many of the shades and it maintained a natural rather than ‘flooded’ look to the image. The enhanced precision also applied to brighter shades. Fine gradients such as the sun’s rays in the sky, mist and smoke effects appeared smoother and again showed a greater nuanced variety of shades and a more natural progression. The image below is one of our favourites from Shadow of the Tomb Raider for showcasing HDR on a monitor. The photo is purely for illustrative purposes and in no way represents how the monitor appeared running HDR first hand.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider in HDR

This scene looked rather bright overall, with the moderate luminance levels supported being put to work. However; a significant drawback of the basic VESA DisplayHDR 400 certification is that it does not mandate any sort of local dimming. This model’s backlight is controlled as one unit, which as noted in the contrast section means there is no contrast advantage to using HDR. An effective local dimming solution is a key ingredient for a ‘proper HDR experience’, without question. For this scene, a ‘proper HDR experience’ would involve the bright elements such as the sun beaming down, the glint of the sun off the water and waxy leaves appearing brilliantly bright. And there would be a nice mixture of less bright (but still bright) regions surrounding that. The shaded areas of vegetation, for example in the left of the image but mixed in elsewhere as well would appear relatively deep. On this model the dark areas didn’t have the required depth and the bright elements didn’t have the eye-catching brightness that HDR should deliver. The overall scene was just rather bright – some would find this uncomfortable and it certainly accelerates eye fatigue. The strong native contrast of the monitor helped to a degree and prevented such elements looking completely flooded, although there were definite limitations at both the high and low end with the simple backlight solution used. Where the content was predominantly dark, we also felt the backlight lit up too strongly and such scenes would appear more appropriate and atmospheric with a lower luminance level – so even with a single backlight unit being used, finer control would have helped. The section of the video review below focuses on the HDR performance of the monitor and runs through various examples on both test titles.



Interpolation and upscaling

Some users might want to use a lower resolution than the native 2560 x 1440 (WQHD) of the display. Either for extra performance or because they’re using a device such as a games console that doesn’t support the resolution. The monitor provides scaling functionality via both DP and HDMI. It can be run at resolutions such as 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) at up to 60Hz and can use an interpolation (scaling) process to fill the pixels of the screen up. The monitor also supports internal upscaling to 3840 x 2160 (‘4K UHD’) at up to 60Hz, which is useful for devices such as games consoles that support UHD but not WQHD output. To ensure the monitor rather than GPU is handling the scaling process, as a PC user, you need to ensure the GPU driver is correctly configured so that the GPU doesn’t take over the scaling process. For AMD GPU users, 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 ‘Display Mode’ settings in the ‘Gaming’ section of the OSD, as explored in the OSD video. This includes, amongst others, a ‘1:1’ pixel mapping feature that will display only the pixels called for in the source resolution with a black border for the remainder. And the default option, ‘Full’, which will use interpolation and map the source resolution onto the 2560 x 1440 pixels of the display. Considering the Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution, the monitor’s interpolation process is one of the better ones we’ve come across. There was a fair degree of softening compared to viewing a native 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) screen with decent sharpness. This could be partly offset by using the ‘Sharpness’ setting in the OSD or alternatively ‘Super Resolution’ (found in the ‘Gaming’ section). We actually quite liked the look that setting ‘Super Resolution’ to ‘1’ gave the image when running in interpolated Full HD. It didn’t look as crisp and detailed as a native Full HD display, but was surprisingly good in that respect and better than we’ve seen on most monitors. Users should experiment with different settings according to their own preferences, however.

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.

The curve

This monitor adopts a 1500R curve. This is a bit steeper than the curvature on most 27” curved models, which is usually 1800R or possibly even gentler. The curve is something that often appears quite exaggerated in photos and videos of the monitor, with an odd optical pincushion effect. When you’re sitting in front of the monitor using it normally, this ‘pincushion’ effect isn’t observed. The curve is something we found to be quite a subtle and natural addition, one which we adapted to quite quickly and that drew us into the experience a bit. It gives a slight extra feeling of depth and some would argue it’s beneficial for viewing comfort as well. We can attest that we found the monitor comfortable to use, although we don’t find most modern flat monitors uncomfortable. In fact, once we’d become used to the 1500R curve of this model, going back to flat models was an odd experience as they initially appeared convex (bending away at the edges) even though they weren’t. Your eyes and brain adjust to this after several hours, just as you get used to curved models. We’d therefore consider the curve something that most users will adapt to and actually quite enjoy using. Designers or users who simply prefer geometric perfection may indeed prefer flat screens, but for most users it’s certainly not something to be afraid of. The images below are just for illustrative purposes and greatly exaggerate the effect of the curve, as noted earlier.

The desktop

Battlefield V

Fallout 76

Call of Duty Modern Warfare (beta)

Video review

The video below summarises some of the key points raised in this written review and shows the monitor in action. The video review is designed to complement the written piece and is not nearly as comprehensive.




Timestamps:
Features & Aesthetics
Contrast
Colour reproduction
HDR (High Dynamic Range)
Responsiveness

Conclusion

Although there’s been a push towards screens with higher resolutions and pixel densities, some users find the 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) resolution suitable for their needs. By using a VA panel with this resolution and combining it with a host of attractive features (including a 165Hz refresh rate), the Gigabyte AORUS CV27F is one of the more interesting Full HD models launched recently. The 27” Full HD screen certainly doesn’t deliver breathtaking detail and clarity, as the pixel density is relatively low – but it makes it easier to push high frame rates to make the most out of the high refresh rates supported. The 1500R curve of the screen is something we got used to quite quickly and felt the screen was perfectly natural to use. The curve just drew us into the experience a bit, without making things feel weird. The monitor has sharp lines and a good solid powder-coated metal stand base, giving it a fairly solid look and feel overall. The comprehensive OSD and well-implemented ‘OSD Sidekick’ software (including user-upgradeable firmware feature) was also a nice touch. For users who like a touch of colour, there were some customisable RGB LED ‘wings’ at the rear – but the light from this was only really easily viewed from behind the monitor. So not particularly useful with the monitor up against a wall.

Contrast was the main strength of the monitor, as with any VA panel. Static contrast was relatively strong, giving a good atmosphere to dark scenes. There was a bit of ‘black crush’ and ‘VA glow’, although both were at a relatively low level so we didn’t feel the really soured the experience too much. The use of a light matte anti-glare screen surface with relatively smooth finish was also commendable, keeping the image free from any real graininess even when viewing the lightest content. Out of the box gamma tracking was also good, with plenty of flexibility related to that in the OSD as well. After a few tweaks elsewhere, the image was nicely balanced and quite vibrant and varied overall. There were some colour consistency weaknesses (losses of saturation towards the bottom and lesser extent sides of the screen), but these were minor for the panel type. Particularly from a reasonable viewing distance, sitting centrally. The generous but not extreme colour gamut (90% DCI-P3) helped inject some extra vibrancy into the image without intense oversaturation. It was also a suitable base for HDR, with the monitor supporting VESA DisplayHDR 400. As far as HDR experiences at this ‘level’ go, the monitor provided a well-balanced one overall. The nuanced shade variety was good and the colour gamut was used appropriately. On the contrast side, though, there was no advantage whatsoever to running the monitor in HDR over SDR. No local dimming was supported and the top end luminance wasn’t particularly high by HDR standards. Good enough for VESA HDR 400 certification – far from a ‘full fat’ HDR experience. Unlike on the AD27QD, the HDR experience was largely the same on our AMD and Nvidia GPUs. So that was good to see.

Responsiveness was something of a mixed bag, as is often the case with VA models. Input lag was nice and low and the monitor provided 165Hz output, which gave a pleasing ‘connected feel’ and a reduction in perceived blur at suitably high frame rates. We actually preferred keeping the monitor at 144Hz, though, as we noticed some particularly obnoxious overshoot artifacts at 165Hz. Overshoot was still a prominent feature at 144Hz, something that could be tackled by using the ‘Normal’ setting – which instead made instances of ‘powdery’ and ‘smeary’ trailing far more common. Whilst this persisted in places using the ‘Speed’ setting, it was not as widespread or obvious in general. For a VA model, the pixel responses were quite snappy overall and put the higher refresh rates to quite good use. But we felt a setting between ‘Normal’ and ‘Speed’ would’ve been an attractive addition. This was especially the case at reduced frame rates, with Adaptive-Sync active (and hence reduced refresh rates), where overshoot became rather strong using the ‘Speed’ setting. But obvious weaknesses under the ‘Normal’ setting persisted. Adaptive-Sync did its thing to get rid of tearing and stuttering, though, both via AMD FreeSync and Nvidia’s ‘G-SYNC Compatible Mode’.

An alternative was provided in the form of the ‘Aim Stabilizer’ strobe backlight setting, but we found this too ‘messy’ in terms of overshoot, strobe crosstalk and various other issues to be a setting we’d recommend. Overall the monitor is one of the more feature-rich Full HD models available and it puts most of its features to good use. The pricing reflects this broad feature-set. It provides strong contrast and fairly vibrant colour output, with respectable consistency for the panel type. It also provides a decent high refresh rate experience, with fairly snappy pixel responses overall and low input lag. Although there were imperfections there which could sour the experience for some.

The bottom line; a fairly vibrant and varied image with strong contrast and decent overall responsiveness for the panel type – but some imperfections in the pixel responses that could turn some users off.

Positives Negatives
Fairly vibrant and varied colour output with good consistency for the panel type and a fairly generous (but not extreme) colour gamut. A useable HDR implementation, decent as far as VESA DisplayHDR 400 implementations go Some weaknesses in colour consistency – losses of saturation and changes in perceived gamma towards the bottom and sides of the screen
Strong static contrast and a smooth screen surface, delivering a good atmosphere to darker content and keeping lighter content free from any real graininess from the screen surface ‘VA glow’ and ‘black crush’, but fairly low levels of both. No local dimming capability and somewhat limited upper end luminance gives a far from complete HDR experience
Low input lag and decent overall pixel responsiveness, whilst Adaptive-Sync worked well on both AMD and Nvidia GPUs to reduce stuttering and tearing Some weaknesses in pixel responsiveness, including some slower than optimal transitions and moderate overshoot – this becomes stronger at lower refresh rates. 165Hz was unpleasant to use due to additional artifacts
A solid design (especially stand base) with good ergonomic flexibility, feature-rich OSD and associated software. The curve was quite subtle but a nice enough addition overall – not something most users should fear Pixel density is low by modern monitor standards and the RGB LED lighting feature was of limited use unless you can see the monitor from behind


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Gigabyte AORUS CV27F

 
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