ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q - Our First G-Sync Gaming Monitor
The ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) SWIFT PG278Q 27-inch WQHD G-Sync display has been lauded as the best gaming monitor for the second half of 2014. This monitor boasts a 27-inch WQHD LED display boasts a 2560 x 1440 (16:9) screen resolution on a TN panel with 109 pixels per inch (PPI) all tucked inside a sleek looking enclosure that has a supper narrow 6mm thick bezel. Brightness on the PG278Q is rated at up to 350 cd/m² and it has a 1000:1 contrast ratio with the ability to display 72% of the NTSC color gamut.
It also has gamer oriented features like NVIDIA G-Sync technology, a super fast 144MHz refresh rate, 1ms response times, support for NVIDIA 3D Vision, Ultra Low Motion Blur (ULMB) and more. This display won't be able to match the Adobe RGB performance seen on IPS or IGZO monitors, but you should be able to calibrate it for 100% sRGB and it looks pretty damn good at nearly any viewing angle.Basically, this is one high-end gaming monitor!
The PG278Q monitor sells out as soon as a retailer gets them in-stock, which is impressive considering that it runs $799.99 plus shipping
at places like Newegg. That price point puts the ASUS ROG PG278Q above the entry level 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) displays like the ASUS PB287Q 28-inch LED monitor that runs $579.99 shipped
that we reviewed earlier this year
. Should you get a basic 4K display or get something that has all the bells and whistles for gamers? That is a tough choice, but hopefully we'll be able to shed some light on that decision in this article.
ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q G-SYNC Monitor Specifications
|Panel Size (diagonal)
||27" (68.5 cm) Wide Screen (16:9)
|Display Viewing Area (HxV)
||596.74 x 335.66mm
|Panel Backlight / Type
||WLED / TN
||2D mode : 2560 x 1440 (up to 144Hz)
3D mode : 2560 x 1440 (up to 120Hz)
2D Surround: 7680 x 1440 (up to 144Hz)
3D Surround: 7680 x 1440 (up to 120Hz)
||0.233 mm (109ppi)
||350 cd/m² (max.), 300 cd/m² (typical)
|Contrast Ratio (Max.)
||16.7M (real 8 bit)
||1ms (Gray to Gray)
|NVIDIA G-SYNC Technology
|Trace Free Technology
|Color Temperature Selection
||NVIDIA 3D Vision 2
||Yes ( Crosshair / Timer)
|Ultra Low Motion Blur (ULMB)
|Input / Output
||DisplayPort 1.2, USB 3.0 ports (1x Upstream & 2x Downstream)
||<90W (Energy Star 6.0) when on
<0.5W (Power Saving / Off)
||100–240V, 50 / 60 Hz
||+20° ~ -5°
||+60° ~ -60°
|Height Adjustment (mm)
|Dimension / Weight
|Phys. Dimension (WxHxD)
||619.7 x 362.96 x 237.9 mm
|Weight (Estimated by ASUS)
||7.0Kg (Net), 10.5Kg (Gross)
The ASUS SWIFT PG278Q Gaming Monitor ships in a huge box that measures in at 29" x 18" x 12" and weighs about 23 pounds (10.5kg).
The ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q comes packed wrapped in a thin protect baggy surrounded by a ring of protective foam core in the retail box. Our monitor arrived without a scratch and we were happy to see that the PG278Q requires no assembly as the stand is already attached to the monitor. The PG278Q features a standard VESA mount, so if you wanted to mount this display on another type of stand or arm style mounting solution you'll have to remove the ASUS stand first.
Inside the retail packaging you'll find the display, a DisplayPort cable, USB 3.0 B-A cable, external power adapter, owners manual, warranty information pamphlet and of course the driver disc. Everything that you need to get this monitor up and running on a NVIDIA GeForce video card is included.
The image above shows off the thin bezel, On-Screen Display button descriptions and there is a white LED light along the bottom edge of the display that is just barely visible. This LED light changes color depending on what you are doing with monitor at any given time, which is pretty neat.
- No Light - Power Off
- White - Power On
- Amber - Standby
- Red - NVIDIA G-Sync Enabled
- Green - NVIDIA 3D Vision Enabled
- Yellow - Ultra Low Motion Blur (ULMB) Enabled
All of the controls on the ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q are located just behind the front bezel along the lower right corner of the display. There are labels that show what each button does on the front of the display and there are just five buttons to use. One really isn't a button though as it is a small joystick that can move up, down, left, right for easy navigation and then then can be pressed or clicked to serve as the select or enter function. Above the power button you have the turbo button and gamers will often use this button as it allows you to change between 60Hz, 120Hz and 144Hz refresh rates without needing to enter the OSD and fiddling through display settings to switch refresh rates.
One would think that you'd just crank it up to 144Hz and be done with it, but you should try out 60 Hz, 120 Hz and 144 Hz on the games you play with and without G-Sync to dial it in for the very best gaming experience on each title that you play.
The ASUS ROG Swift On-Screen Display (OSD) was extremely easy to navigate with this design. You can quickly adjust the brightness, contrast and color temperature from the color menu that first pops up when you open the OSD.
Under image you can enable Ultra Low Motion Blur (ULMB) and change the OverDrive (OD) settings if you'd like to do so. The OD settings that are available are Off, Normal or Extreme. It should be noted that ULMB can only be enabled when G-Sync is not enabled. ULMB also only works at 85 Hz, 100 Hz and 120 Hz. So, even if you disable G-Sync in the GeForce Control Panel you still need to change the refresh rate to 120Hz from 144Hz using the turbo button on the side of the display. If you don't have G-Sync disabled and the monitor set to 120 Hz the ULMB option will be grayed out in the OSD. ULMB is a technology that was derived from NVIDIA Lightboost technology and both are basically strobe back lights. From what we have seen ULMB is superior to LightBoost, but the good news is that the ROG SWIFT PG278Q supports both LightBoost and ULMB.
ASUS also included GamePlus on the ROG SWIFT PG278Q display. With this feature, you can put an aiming point (crosshair) in the screen center or display a countdown timer for use in real-time strategy games. You can’t have both at the same time, but that shouldn’t be a big deal as one is aimed at first person shooter fans and the other for roll playing and strategy games. The timer can be placed on the top, middle, or bottom of the screens left side and can be set for 30, 40, 50, 60, or 90 minutes. There are two crosshairs styles available and you get to choose from red or green colors.
At the back of the ASUS ROG Swift PG287Q you'll find that the connects are downward facing. This monitor only supports a single DisplayPort video input. There is no other video option available. This is because NVIDIA G-Sync has to use DisplayPort and all video content is routed through the G-Sync module and therefore the designers went with DisplayPort to prevent any issues. It would be nice to have another video input for DVI or HMDI as a fall back option or for Picture-in-Picture duties, but that isn't possible on the first generation of G-Sync displays.
Other than the DisplayPort input you'll find dual USB 3.0 hubs and a USB 3.0 upstream port. ASUS includes a USB 3.0 B-A cable that you can hook up to your gaming PC that then enables the two SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports on the back of the display. Next to the USB 3.0 ports is a covered service port. Behind the service port is a USB port that is used when there are firmware updates made available. To date ASUS has not released any firmware updates for the PG287Q and we have been told mixed answers on wheather or not end users will ever be allowed or able to upgrade the NVIDIA G-Sync firmware if there is ever a time that is needed. ASUS says that NVIDIA won't allow end users to update the G-Sync firmware and NVIDIA says that it is up to the display manufacturer. We don't see this being an issue as ASUS has been always been good about allowing end user 'field' firmware updates on their displays.
The back of the ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q looks just as good as the front as it has an angled design with a smart air venting design that helps keep the monitor nice and cool.
There is also a smart cable management built into the stand that allows for the power and DisplayPort cable to be routed to the display. We have seen some people having DisplayPort issues and we highly suggest using the cable that comes with the monitor. If you are using an old one and run into issues you might want to swap out the cable as not all DisplayPort cables are the same. A DP cable has 20 pins, but one of the pins should not be connected should not be connected per VESA standards. (Pin 20 is the one that should not be wired and it is the "DP_PWR Power for connector"
) Some lower-end cables have all 20 pins wired which feeds back 3.3v 500mA of power and that is causing issues for some people using G-Sync displays.
The ROG SWIFT PG278Q monitor stand base has a pretty cool looking pattern in the plastic with a red ring around where it attaches into the base. This red ring is lit with red LEDs that are on by default and it looks pretty cool at night in in a darkened room when gaming. If lights aren't your thing you can turn off this feature by going into the OSD and under the system setup menu you can disable the "light in motion" option.
If you don't have your system built yet and need to install the video card drivers after the Windows OS is installed setting up G-Sync is simple and pretty much automatic. If you are adding a G-Sync display to your current gaming system you'll need to install the latest GeForce Drivers (340.43 or later is required for G-Sync to work) and be running a GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost with DisplayPort or greater when it comes to the video cards. To make sure GeForce G-Sync is enabled you can go into the NVIDIA Control Panel and look at the 'set up G-Sync' menu and ensure that there is a check next to enable G-Sync. This page also tells you that the G-Sync monitor must be the primary display, applications must be run in full screen mode and that vertical sync must be set to G-Sync.
To make sure the vertical sync is correctly set you need to go to 'manage 3D settings' and scroll down to the vertical sync setting in the feature menu. From there you can clock the drop down menu to see all the options you have. This must be set to G-Sync. By doing this the driver will know to override the v-sync settings of the game titles you are playing.
NVIDIA G-Sync Technology Overview
Most monitors operate with a fixed refresh rate, which is commonly 60Hz although some of the newer gaming monitors support refresh rates of 120Hz or even 144Hz. Gamers can choose how the video card passes the frames to the display by either turning VSync off or leaving VSync on. This is the way it has been done for decades. Most gamers turn VSync off, which means that the GPU sends the rendered frames to the monitor as soon as they have been processed and could care less if the monitor is ready to receive them. Often a monitor has not finished its refresh and is not ready to move onto the next frame. This means that the frames coming from the GPU and the refresh rate of the monitor are different and things are not synchronized.
This is one of the main reasons why you experience tearing in games when moving around. If you have a game title that does this just stay in one spot and spin around in a circle and you should really see the tearing. This tearing is happening because a monitor usually refreshes from the top to bottom and the tearing is due to the fact that there is a different frame being shown on the top of the display than the one at the bottom. No matter what refresh rate you game at the tearing is still there despite having a 120Hz or 144Hz monitor. Tearing and juddering is something that gamers have come to live with as it has always been part of the game. How much tearing and juddering you get largely depends on the hardware you are using, the game title you are playing and of course the image quality settings you are running.
If you can't stand the tearing you can always enable VSync and by turning VSync on you basically force the GPU to hold a frame until the monitor is ready to display it. This means that once the monitor is done rendering the frame it is working on it will go ahead and refresh with the start of the new frame and this will totally eliminate the tearing. The problem is, as most every gamer should know, is that by enabling VSync it locks the frame rate of the game you are playing to the monitor’s refresh rate. This means with a 60 Hz display you are limited to 60 FPS and so on. This means that the tearing and juddering is gone, but when gaming you'll see lag and stutters. Ugh!
This is because the GPU might not be able to draw and deliver all the frames at the same time. If you get to a part of a game that is GPU intensive and it takes longer to draw that frame it means you might miss when the panel refresh. That causes big time lag as you need to wait until the frame can be sent to the monitor on the next refresh cycle. The monitor in the mean time has to display something, so it just displays the previous frame again, resulting in the stutter gamers are familiar with when VSync is on. If you want to see stuttering on your display enable V-Sync and disable triple buffering on a GPU intensive game title and you'll see why most gamers disable VSync as tearing is easier to deal with than the lag and stutters.
NVIDIA has some pretty smart engineers working for them and they were able to come up with a way to allow the GPU to control the rate at which the game frames are delivered and the refresh rate of your monitor.This requires special hardware inside the monitor. The hardware hidden inside the display is the NVIDIA G-SYNC module and it allows monitor to synchronize the output of the GPU, instead of the GPU to the monitor, resulting in a tear-free, faster, smoother experience that has redefined the gaming experience that we have become so used to. It also doesn't hurt that most G-SYNC monitors are 120Hz or 144Hz and most people will be upgrading from an older 60Hz display. This means that most gamers will be able to eliminate screen tearing and greatly reduce stutter and input lag while gaming at a higher refresh rate in general.
The diagram above shows how NVIDIA G-Sync works. The gaming PC with the NVIDIA GeForce GPU inside sends a signal to the G-SYNC controller built into the monitor and tells the monitor when to update the display. This allows the GPU to render the frame at whatever speed it requires, because the monitor will wait until the full frame is delivered. This means no tearing as you have a cariable refresh rate that is adjusted in real-time. it works regardless of the game title you are playing and the only real caveat is that it only works over DisplayPort. The G-Sync module itself doesn't support HDMI or DVI video connections as it needs a solution that can handle data packets and DisplayPort was the answer. You will also need an NVIDIA GeForce GTX Ti Boost or 'higher' video card for G-Sync to work. It obviously will not work on AMD graphics cards.
ASUS ROG SWIFT PG278Q Gaming and General Experiences
Once we got the monitor setup on our Windows 8.1 Gaming PC with the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 video card on GeForce 344.48 drivers we were able to take a look at the performance of the display. It's hard to show you what G-Sync looks like as you can't capture it on a video camera setup like we have or with still pictures. Overall GPU performance hardly changes when you enable VSync and then disable it. In Metro Last Light at 2560 x 1440 with all the eye candy turned on we scored 79FPS with VSync off and then 78FPS with G-Sync enabled. That is a very small difference and after averaging the results of several runs the difference is often less than 1FPS no matter what game you are playing. So, there is not a significant performance hit from running G-Sync, which is great news for gamers that want to get the most performance possible.
We played Metro: Last Light, Battlefield 4, Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth, Skyrim and a handful of other game titles for a number of weeks on the ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q and found that there is a pretty big difference between your typical 1080P display running 60 Hz and then this 144 Hz display running G-Sync. We started out at 60 Hz with VSync disabled and worked our way up to 144 Hz on the various game titles and you could most certainly see the tearing no matter the refresh rate being used. The tearing would go away when you enabled V-Sync, but then we'd get stutters and the input lag was most certainly noticeable. When NVIDIA G-Sync was enabled the tearing was gone on every game title we played. We then tried G-Sync at difference refresh rates and there was a significant difference between 60 Hz and 120 Hz, but only in game titles like Skyrim and Civilization: Beyond Earth could we notice the difference between 120 Hz and 144 Hz.
It should be noted that in Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth we were unable to play the game at any resolution beyond 1280 x 1024 due to what appears to be a game issue. We contacted both ASUS and NVIDIA to report this bug before the game was publicly available and when we last checked it still wasn't working. We were
told by NVIDIA that they were able to duplicate this issue on both AMD and NVIDIA cards with different monitors. Anything other than a 60Hz panel, G-SYNC or otherwise, has this issue. So, gaming beyond 60 Hz might not be trouble free for every game title. We are just happy that this wasn't a G-Sync issue!
You really need to personally see a G-Sync display in the flesh to see how nice it is, but enabling G-Sync made a big difference and did away with the tearing, judder and stuttering that we often saw when playing games. If you are serious about your games and have some extra funds available for your gaming rig you should certainly try one out locally if there is one to demo (Think Micro Center or Fry's) or just take the plunge as you won't be disappointed.
One of the first none gaming tests that we did on the ROG SWIFT PG278Q gaming monitor was the UFO test
by blur busters that is excellent at showing motion blur. This website allows you to compare up to six different framerates at the same time and you can do it with various monitor modes. This is also a great test to show off ULMB, so if you get this monitor be sure to give this online test a shot.
We also did the NVIDIA G-Sync Pendulum Demo
, but we've told you about that demo numerous times on Legit Reviews and even recorded some demos with Tom Petersen from NVIDIA explaining it in great detail. Take a look at the videos above to hear NVIDIA explain G-Sync to Legit Reviews with some live demos back at CES 2014.
Those that are curious about measured brightness we got a measurement of 460 lux on our LX-1010B light meter on a white page with the brightness set at 100%, which is pretty good.
We used Datacolor's Spyder4ELITE display color calibration tool with its full-spectrum 7-color sensor to dial incolors on the ASUS SWift PG278Q. We were able to get 100% of sRGB after calibrating the monitor.
After calibration we were also getting 76% of the AdobeRGB spectrum.
When running the advanced Color Uniformity test with the brightness of the display at 100% we see some variance on the display, mainly in the lower left hand corner.
Here is a quick look at the luminance uniformity test that was conducted along the edges of nine sections on the gaming display. The brightest part of the display is the middle, which is common on most any display with one of the corners being the darkest. In this situation the lower right hand corner is 17% darker than the center of the display.
|State and Brightness Setting
||Manufacturer Spec (W)
||Measured Power Usage (W)
|Desktop ULMB (80%)
|Desktop 60Hz (80%)
|Desktop 120Hz (80%)
|Desktop 144Hz (80%)
|Maximum Brightness (100%)
|Minimum Brightness (0%)
When it comes to power consumption the ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q does use slightly more power than your typical 27-inch TN panel due to the G-Sync module being used. That said we were happy to see the maximum power draw to be at ~50 Watts, which is far better than the <90W rating given by ASUS in the specifications. It should be noted that we did this test on the default Windows 8.1 desktop to show real world results versus just a white background. We did notice a slight increase in power consumption as the refresh rate Hz was increased and a nice drop in power when ULMB was enabled and g-sync was disabled and the monitor was set to 120 Hz. The only odd power reading we were seeing on our particular model was the standby power. We saw the standby power being roughly 10.2Watts with the system in sleep mode or totally turned off. We expected this measurement to be less than 0.5 Watts like the ASUS specifications said, but that wasn't the case on our unit.
Let's wrap this up!
Final Thoughts on the ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q Display
The ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q is hands down the best gaming monitor that we have had the opportunity to use so far this year. The difference with and without G-Sync is very pronounced on most of the game titles that we play on a regular basis and it is a major upgrade to a part of a PC that seldom sees big changes like this. Synchronizing the frames between the GPU and Display is certainly where the future of PC gaming is headed and monitors like the PG287Q are the first to be bringing this technology to gamers around the world. The ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q has a TN panel. Is that a deal breaker? We feel it is unlikely to be an issue for those that play games and use the monitor for general use. If you aren't worried about having an Adobe RGB calibrated monitor for professional work then you can easily ignore the fact that this monitor doesn't use a higher-end IPS or IGZO-based panel. Other than the high refresh rate and NVIDIA G-Sync technologies we feel in love with the super thin bezels. Having thin bezels is important to those that want to game on multiple monitors. We don't have multiple G-Sync monitors here, but NVIDIA said that G-Sync Surround works, so you could get three PG278Q displays for one killer G-Sync Surround gaming setup. SLI GPU setups also work seamlessly with G-Sync displays, so those wanting to run multiple GPUs or monitors with G-Sync are in luck.
NVIDIA G-Sync Enabled Monitors Available To Purchase in October 2014:
Acer XB280HK (28″ UHD, 60Hz) - $799.99 Shipped
Acer XB270HAbprz (27″ FHD, 144Hz) - $764.79 Shipped
ASUS PG278Q (27″ WQHD, 144Hz) - $799.99 Shipped
BenQ XL2420G (24″ FHD, 144Hz) - $649.99 Shipped
Philips 272G5DYEB (27″ FHD, 144Hz) - $599.99 Shipped
ASUS isn't the only company out there with a G-Sync Monitor, but there are around five G-Sync monitors that you can go out and purchase this very second and they run between $599 and $799 with screen resolutions ranging from 1920 x 1080 (1080P) all the way up to 3840 x 2160 (4K). The ASUS PG278Q is without a doubt a feature rich monitor and most of the other brands 144 Hz gaming monitors are just Full HD (1920 x 1080). With all the features that the SWIFT PG278Q has over similar monitors it clearly stands out from the crowd and the extra cost is easily justifiable.
At the end of the day the ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q is a very nice gaming monitor and we really enjoyed being able to game with NVIDIA G-Sync. The technology is pretty damn impressive and after using the PG278Q for a few days it makes you wonder why this technology took so long to come out. Having a variable refresh rate while gaming is nice and thanks to NVIDIA we can all experience it!
Legit Bottom Line:
Displays haven't changes much over the past decade, but NVIDIA brought gaming displays out of the stone ages with G-Sync and we can see this technology becoming the norm for gamers in the years to come.