AOC AG271QG Review: Nearly Everything You Could Ask for in a 2K Monitor
The TN vs. IPS panel war has raged for what feels like millennia. Historically, TN panels have been popular among gaming aficionados due to their swift response times, fast(er) pixel switching technologies, and brawnier brightness settings. Conversely, IPS monitors have been the choice of gamers looking for wider viewing angles, more vibrant color options, and anti screen-tearing technologies such as G-Sync and FreeSync.
But IPS monitors have come a long way over the past several years, with many affording gamers with lush colors and high refresh rates. Getting their start in consumer electronics about 50 years ago with one of the world's first color televisions, AOC has been making monitors meant for business and design use for years. And as they've expanded into the gaming space, their monitors are some of the most drool-worthy peripherals you can get your hands on.
Specifically designed with gamers in mind, AOC's AGON class of IPS monitors meshes the best of both the TN and IPS worlds, marrying high refresh rates with rich, consistent colors and wide viewing angles. And the AOC AG271QG is no exception. An AHVA IPS variant, the 271QG reaches refresh rates as high as 165Hz, provides viewing angles up to 175 degrees, and supports NVIDIA's G-Sync technology (this monitor's cousin, the AG271QX, supports AdaptiveSync, which is compatible with AMD and Intel graphics cards if that's what you've got in your rig).
The key takeaway is that this 2560x1440 monitor does a lot -- and it does that lot almost flawlessly.
Beautiful, Practical Design
Coming in at 27 inches, the AG271QG is without a doubt a high-end display. On first blush, that's obvious from its elegant design.
Looking at the monitor head-on, a matte black bezel adorns its thin sides and top, while the skinny bottom sports a brushed bezel and an AGON logo in the middle. The anti-glare screen completes the front-facing look with class, while the pressable menu buttons hidden underneath the monitor's bottom-right edge are stylishly tucked out of view.
Going around to the back, the monitor's black plastic is complemented by an embossed AOC logo near the top and a dynamic red chevron festooned within the monitor's middle portion. Here is where you'll also find the connection point for the AG271's sturdy steel wall bracket and stand. An added quality of life feature (as well as a necessity, of course), the stand is fully adjustable and highly durable.
You'll be able to raise, lower, pivot, and tilt the monitor at your leisure, as well as position it in either portrait or landscape orientations. On top of that, the stand also has a dial feature along the edge that helps you select a preferred height if you ever decide to disconnect it from the stand or readjust its orientation.
As for connections and ports, you'll find quite a few along the AG271's bottom: one Display Port 1.2a, one HDMI 1.4 port, a 3.5mm microphone-out port, a USB 3.0 upstream, and a USB 3.0 downstream. Along the right side of the monitor, you'll also find four other ports: another USB 3.0 downstream port, a USB 3.0+ fast-charging port, a 3.5mm headset port, and a 3.5mm microphone-in port.
Needless to say, you've got plenty of options for charging peripherals or affixing card readers to the monitor itself. Having all of these connections at your fingertips is convenient and fast for ancillary tasks, attaching a gaming console, or, for example, quickly plugging in a webcam for streaming. Of course, you'll still want to connect things like your mouse and keyboard to the computer itself, as you'll come up no dice by hooking them directly to the monitor.
Menu and Settings
As I mentioned earlier, the AG271QG's small but responsive menu buttons are elegantly tucked under the lower right-hand side of the monitor. Activating the menu, increasing and decreasing the volume, and switching between the Display and HDMI ports is easy. I specifically found the latter two capabilities invaluable; slogging through menus just to switch ports or change volumes is a real pain in the rear. I know -- my LG and ASUS monitors make me do it, and as much as it's a first-world problem, it grinds my gears nonetheless.
It's also a good thing those options lie outside of the primary OSD since the 271QG's menu is drab and counterintuitive. Opening the OSD, you're met with a lackluster interface set against an opaque grey background that reminds me of something from the early 2000s, not a "cutting-edge" monitor from 2017. Of course, that's not nearly a deal-breaker in and of itself, but the menu is also frustratingly difficult to navigate. It's a bit difficult to explain, but once you get inside the OSD, you'll find that buttons which should move you forward take you backward and vice versa, making for a slightly head-scratching experience.
What's more, and often endemic to G-Sync enabled monitors, the 271QG doesn't offer a whole lot in terms of presets. You can adjust brightness intensities, contrast levels, and gamma settings, as well as color levels and the OSD's primary setup by hand, but there's no one-size-fits-all option.
You can also enable the monitor's G-Sync functionality and ULMB settings here, the latter of which decreases motion blur and ghosting for games with fast-moving objects, such as Project Cars 2. Unfortunately, like with most monitors that provide both options, you can't enable G-Sync and ULMB at the same time, but that's a small price to pay once you actually start using the monitor.
Here's where the AG271QG really starts to shine. Out of the box, the monitor provides good color and brightness settings that you could very well just run with. Colors are lush, and except for a few ultra narrow sections along the edges, the screen didn't appear washed out overall. There was a bit of light bloom on certain letters in the headers of the Steam Client, for example, but nothing too noticeable in-game or when browsing the Web.
Looking at white luminance and brightness, the AG271QG is factory-rated at about 350 cd/m², but in testing, it can reach into the 380s, pushing it above some ASUS and Dell models. Out of the box, the brightness settings provide a uniform, consistent look across the monitor, something some TN monitors struggle with. And using the OSD, you can adjust these settings to your liking, with exceptionally pleasing results.
Having a contrast ratio of 1000:1 (with its darkest dark and whitest white measuring around 1160:1), as well as a dynamic contrast ratio of 50 million to one, you'll also get some truly eye-popping scenes in games like Destiny 2 and Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice.
When you first plug it in, the AG271QG's colors are slightly skewed toward green, and its grey scale measurement is on the higher side, coming in at about 4.04 Delta-E. While dE ratings of around 1.0 mean that differences between colors are nearly imperceptible to the human eye, those that come in higher along that value chain mean differences become more apparent. So while a 4.04dE rating isn't terrible, it's a bit higher than other monitors. Thankfully, this value can be changed in the OSD to reach a value closer to 1 and provide a sleek viewing experience.
With colors outside of the grey spectrum, the AG271QG gets high marks. Color temps are vibrant, and as you'd expect from an IPS panel, this AGON model reproduces colors very well. Including warm, cool, and sRGB options, colors are accurate from almost every viewing angle. Compared to LG's 24UD58-B 4K, my everyday gaming monitor, shades on the 271QG are just a bit drabber when using factory settings in games like Fallout 4, but this is easily adjustable through the OSD via the User setting, which allows you to change each color value individually.
As for the monitor's gamma settings, you're afforded three different options. The first option provides a nice depth and vibrancy, while the second and third options do slightly cut into color performance when using specific settings. However, the overall gamma selections are more than adequate for a monitor of this type and most likely will be imperceptible for most users.
As mentioned earlier, this AOC monitor comes with G-Sync capabilities, which you can use if you have an NVIDIA graphics card in your rig. Running a GTX 1080 with 8GB of VRAM, I found that the AG271QG G-Sync reacted as you'd expect, eliminating screen tearing and jittering even at higher refresh rates. Having the ability to disable V-Sync in-game and removing the processing burden from the GPU definitely has its advantages, allowing for smoother gaming experiences on the whole.
If you're exceptionally perceptive to blurring, you can opt to enable the monitor's ULMB settings to counteract that, but keep in mind that you'll also need to match the refresh rate to the frame rate for it to work as advertised. At higher refresh rates, such as 165Hz, that's a tall task. However, if you're willing to play at lower rates, such as 85Hz, you might find some value in the feature.
Consequently, G-Sync is probably a better option here, as it flawlessly prevents tearing (and basically negates blurring) at higher refresh rates. And if you're seriously considering adding this monitor to your setup, it's something you're going to want to take advantage of.
The best part about this IPS screen is its low response times and nearly non-existent latency. When playing competitive games like CS:GO or Overwatch, low input latency is paramount. It can mean the difference between a quick kill and a quick death.
As is the growing trend amongst newer IPS monitors, the AG271QG has a crazy-low response time of 4ms, putting it on par with or above a lot of TN monitors out there. And when compared to other IPS monitors, such as some of those in the ASUS and Dell lines, its black to white transitions take the cake. In essence, pixel responsiveness and signal delay aren't issues you're going to fight with -- at least not at levels that are going to affect your playing. Being made with eSports players in mind, this AGON model does exactly what it's advertised to do.
As far as G-Sync IPS monitors go, the AGON 271QG stands near the front of the pack. Its colors and contrast ratios are fantastic, and it provides excellent refresh rates without screen tearing or jittering. Input lag is practically nonexistent, which is a boon for competitive gamers of all shapes and sizes.
Sure, its menus could use a bit of love, but if that's the only complaint we can really find here, it's a minute one that can be easily overlooked. (I mean, how long are you going to spend in menus anyway?) If you're in the market for a 2560x1440p 2K monitor that can blow refresh rates out of the water while also providing great color and expansive viewing ranges, the AG271QG is a monitor you're going to want to seriously consider. Its high price tag might dissuade more casual gamers from picking it up, but when you start to look at everything you get in this near-complete package, it's a little easier to swallow.
You can buy the AGON AG271QG on Amazon for $599.99.
[Note: AOC provided the AG271QG used for this review.]