Monitor choice is thankfully a lot easier in recent times. Even a cheap TN panel will be reasonable quality.
For gamers though we've had a couple of different branches to take on the display path. The advent of 3D and Eyefinity has meant that there really are a lot of choice available. Do you go for the trickery of 3D? If so do you prefer active or passive 3D? Maybe you're not a fan of wearing glasses when playing and like the surround of multiple monitors.
Perhaps neither of those appeals. You haven't got the desk space for surround gaming, and would rather spend all of your money on one giant monitor. Enter the ASUS PB278Q, a 27" monitor with a whopping 2560x1440 resolution.
Although we know that things such as response time and contrast are completely meaningless as a judge of quality due to the fact that there isn't an industry standard testing methodology. However, the PB278Q has plenty of connection options, a very good stand, and the PLS panel which sits just about an IPS in colour reproduction quality.
|Display||Panel Size: Wide Screen 27.0"(68.47cm) 16:9|
Color Saturation : 100%(sRGB)
Panel Type : PLS Panel
True Resolution : 2560x1440 (HDMI/DisplayPort/Dual-link DVI)
Pixel Pitch : 0.233mm
Brightness(Max) : 300 cd/㎡
ASUS Smart Contrast Ratio (ASCR) : 80000000:1
Viewing Angle (CR≧10) : 178°(H)/178°(V)
Response Time : 5ms (Gray to Gray)
LCD ZBD Warranty : Yes
|Video Feature||Trace Free Technology|
SPLENDID Video Intelligence Technology
SPLENDID Video Preset Modes : 5 Modes
Color Temperature Selection : 4 Modes
Gamma adjustment : Yes (Support Gamma 2.2/1.8 )
QuickFit (modes) : Yes (Letter/A4/Alignment Grid/Photo Modes)
|Audio Features||Stereo Speakers : 3W x 2 Stereo RMS|
|Convenient Hotkey||SPLENDID Video Preset Mode Selection|
|I/O Ports||Signal Input : HDMI 1.4, D-Sub, DisplayPort 1.2, Dual-link DVI-D|
PC Audio Input : 3.5mm Mini-Jack
AV Audio Input : HDMI 1.4
Earphone jack : 3.5mm Mini-Jack
|Signal Frequency||Analog Signal Frequency : 24~89 KHz(H)/ 50~75 Hz(V)|
Digital Signal Frequency : 24~89 KHz(H)/ 50~75 Hz(V)
|Power Consumption||Power Consumption(Typical):<60W|
Power Saving Mode:<0.5W
Power Off Mode:<0.5W
Voltage: 100-240V, 50/60Hz
|Mechanical Design||Chassis Colors : Black|
Tilt : +20°~-5°
Swivel : Yes
Pivot : Yes
Height Adjustment : Yes
VESA Wall Mounting : 100x100mm
|Dimensions||Phys. Dimension with Stand(WxHxD):643x552.3x218 mm|
Phys. Dimension without Stand(WxHxD):643x386.2x69.6(mm)(For VESA Wall Mount)
Box Dimension(WxHxD):755x470x224 mm
Monitors are pretty much identical these days, so we've grabbed the official photos from the ASUS website.
The major cool factor about the PB278Q, and trust us it's really rare, is the excellent stand. Normally you get something that might have tilt adjustment, but otherwise you're required to purchase something like the outstanding Ergotron Neo-Flex. Not so with the ASUS, as it does everything you could need. The PB278Q also has plentiful connection options, with every type of display input supported.
Now normally we just skip to the conclusion and tell you how it performs. But this is a big shift in resolution so we thought you might be interested in seeing what kind of performance differential there is between running at the standard 1920x1080, and the giant resolution offered by the PB278Q. So we have pulled together the four most beefy graphics cards, and trust us there is no point in trying to game with a GTX550 or HD7770, and we're going to see how much performance loss there is.
It's also worth noting we've gained three new games. The mediocre MOH Warfighter, the strange Sleeping Dogs, the excellent Hitman Absolution and the truly stunning Far Cry 3. We won't be commenting upon the results individually but will wrap it all up in the conclusion.
Batman Arkham City
Far Cry 2
Far Cry 3
Medal of Honor : Warfighter
The Witcher 2
Let's start with the monitor itself.
It's huge. Make no mistake, the difference between even a 24" 1080P monitor, and the 27" ASUS offering is immense. The amount of screen real-estate available is glorious, and you really feel the benefit of the extra pixels on offer. For comparison purposes, a 1920x1080 monitor has just over 2 million pixels. The ASUS PB278Q has 3.6 million pixels. It's very nearly two 1080P monitors worth of screen in just a 3" bigger package. This makes a huge difference to your potential productivity.
In the OC3D offices we have a few different setups available to us. We normally use triple screens for our work, and have gamed on Eyefinity setups and 3D setups. We definitely prefer the 'one giant screen' approach. Games are designed for a single screen, especially in these days where the line between a console title and a PC title are blurred so much that few games are designed to utilise more than one display.
The quality of the screen is outstanding. The PLS (Plane Line Switching) panel is a big improvement upon a TN panel, and easily a match for any IPS panels. You get brilliant colour reproduction, good blacks, good viewing angles and the whole shebang is wrapped up in a nicely designed surround. Sure it wont win any design awards, but when it comes to monitors we'd much rather have something that just works, rather than something with fancy stands and strange lights just for the sake of it. The stand is excellent and you certainly wont need to purchase a separate VESA stand just to get some decent adjustability.
Of course you pay a premium for such a big monitor, and the PB278Q rocks in at a fairly hefty £460. However, that's only hefty compared to either the bottom end TN monitors that most of us start with, or the average 1080P television where you can get a much bigger size for the same kind of money. If you look at what you're actually getting, we think that the PB278Q is very good value. If you've never experienced a good quality monitor then you can't appreciate the difference it makes. But if you think of how much you are willing to spend on good graphics or a fast processor, why scrimp on the part of the computer you actually look at?
Finally we have to point out the performance difference in average FPS. This, as we said above, is nearly twice the size of a 1080P monitor in pure pixel terms, so that requires a ton of extra horsepower and the frame-rate certainly suffers. If you've only got a mid-range card you'd be better off putting your money into a high-end GPU first, otherwise you'll be watching a slide-show.
However, if you want a big screen with awesome colours, good response, no ghosting, loads of connection options and a great stand we heartily recommend the excellent ASUS PB278Q. Our only complaint is that we only have one and everybody is fighting over the chance to use it. A worthy winner of our OC3D Gold Award, you owe it to yourself to have a screen that freshens up your whole experience.
Thanks to ASUS for providing the PB278Q for review. Discuss it in our OC3D Forums.