ASUS MG279Q 27-inch WQHD IPS FreeSync Gaming Monitor
The ASUS MG279Q WGHD gaming monitor is the latest monitor in ASUS' ever growing line of gaming-gear and has been one of the most highly anticipated displays for the summer of 2015. This display features a 27-inch In-Plane Switching (IPS) panel with a 2560 x 1440-pixel resolution (WQHD) and a 144Hz refresh rate. This display means that gamers no longer have to sacrifice image quality by going with a TN panel to get that 144MHz refresh rate you want for silky smooth gaming. The ASUS MG279Q also supports AMD FreeSync technology for tear-free gaming, although when you run AMD FreeSync the refresh rate is only supported in the 35 Hz to 90 Hz range on this particular display. Other key features are a 4ms response time, 178 degree view angle, 100 percent sRGB coverage, 350-nit brightness and a 1000:1 contrast ratio. This monitor is clearly aimed at gamers and enthusiasts that want outstanding image quality and dynamic refresh rate technology on their gaming monitor. Having all those features does come at a price though as the ASUS MG279Q runs $599.50 plus shipping on Amazon and your investment is protected 3-year limited warranty.
AMD FreeSync eliminates screen tearing without all the usual lag and latency. There has been some confusion about FreeSync technology as it's often changing and evolving, but thanks to AMD Catalyst 15.7 video card drivers, AMD FreeSync now works on single-card gaming systems and on those running multiple cards in AMD Crossfire mode! AMD FreeSync is not currently supported on AMD Dual Graphics APU configuration, so there are some AMD setups that can't support FreeSync. If you have an AMD Radeon graphics card that is capable of running FreeSync you'll be able to enable the feature with the ASUS MG279Q gaming monitor. Keep in mind that the ASUS MG279Q isn't just for AMD Radeon owners as it will run NVIDIA GeForce video cards at up to 144Hz just fine! In fact, you can manually set it to 120Hz or 144Hz with any discrete graphics solution as long as you are using a DisplayPort cable. Many competitive gamers choose to statically set their refresh rate to 120/144Hz.
Not all AMD FreeSync supporting displays are created the same though as some of the big differences can be in the dynamic refresh range found on the numerous panels that are out on the market. If you've been shopping for a FreeSync display you'll quickly discover that TN panels offer a wider dynamic refresh range with most being in the 40-144Hz range. Gaming monitors with AMD FreeSync that use an IPS panel have a much tighter dynamic refresh range usually in the 30-90 Hz range.
The chart above provided by AMD shows 16 panels that are currently available and shows the peak refresh rate of the monitor rather than the top dynamic refresh rate when FreeSync is enabled. This information is useful, but it doesn't show what panel type each monitor is using nor the actual FreeSync Dynamic Refresh Rate Range. We did some digging (for hours) and put together our own chart that shows the refresh range, panel type and street pricing for each FreeSync display.
We found that there are only a small handful of IPS FreeSync panels out there, so you really don't have that many choices if you wanted a particular display size and panel type. The Acer XR341CK IPS display has a 30-75Hz refresh range while LG's 1080P IPS panels are available in the 48-75 Hz range. The 4K Ultra HD panels available from LG and Samsung have a FreeSync refresh range of 40-60Hz. So, when it comes to refresh ranges the ASUS MG279Q that we are looking today has the widest FreeSync refresh range of any IPS/PLS display and that would be 35-90Hz. The lower end range is better than most competing displays and the higher end limitation of 90Hz will allow for a better gaming experience than the 60 Hz panel most gamers currently own. The vast majority of gamers today don't have the hardware to run 90FPS on a QHD display with all the eye candy enabled on the latest game titles, so ASUS believes this to be a non-issue right now.
The ASUS MG279Q looks very similar to the ASUS PB279Q NVIDIA G-Sync display as it uses a similar base and has full pivot, tile and height adjustments. The stand can be easily detached from the display and there are VESA-compatible 100mm x 100mm mounting holes on the back of the unit to be mounting to a wall bracket.
Let's take a closer look at the On Screen Display!
ASUS MG279 On Screen Display
ASUS-exclusive features like Ultra-Low Blue Light, Flicker-Free, GamePlus, and GameVisual technologies all must be access through the On Screen Display (OSD), so we'll take a look and how that all works.
The image above shows off the bezel along with the On-Screen Display button descriptions and panels LED light. The bezel it half an inch think on the top and sides of the MG279Q and is 3/4" thick on the bottom. The LED light on the monitor changes color depending on what you are doing with monitor.
No Light - Power Off
White - Power On
Amber - Standby
All of the controls on the ASUS MG279 display are located just behind 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 six 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.
The ASUS MG279 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. This monitor will also allow you to adjust the BlueLight levels to help your eyes by reducing blue light. ASUS has a great webpage up on the benefits of the technology that you can read if you'd like to know more about ASUS Low Blue Light Technology. The ASUS MG279 is TÜV Rheinland certified and that means it meets their Low Blue Light standard and is able to prevent users suffering from eye strain and fatigue.
BlueLight Level 0 - Standard Mode
BlueLight Level 1 - 20% Blue light reduction for normal web browsing
BlueLight Level 2 - 30% Blue light reduction for viewing photos or videos
BlueLight Level 3 - 50% Blue light reduction for hours of reading or word processing
BlueLight Level 4 - 70% Blue light reduction for use in low light environments
To enable AMD FreeSync you'll need to go into the OSD under the Image tab and then select FreeSync and enable it. Notice that 'on' has a dynamic refresh range of 35-90 Hz. This menu also contains the settings for Sharpness, Trace Free, ASCR (Asus Smart Contrast Ratio) Vivid Pixel and the all-important AMD FreeSync setting. The AMD FreeSync setting is disabled by default, so you'll have to manually enable it.
ASUS also included GamePlus on the MG279 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 MG279 you'll find that the connectors are downward facing. This monitor only supports standard and Mini DisplayPort 1.2 inputs as well of as a pair of HDMI/MHL inputs. You'll need to use one of the DisplayPort inputs with a DisplayPort 1.2 cable to get the 144Hz refresh rate and to use AMD FressSync. Other than the DisplayPort and HDMI inputs you'll find dual USB 3.0 Type-A downstream ports and a USB 3.0 Type-B 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. To the right of the mini-DP port you'll see the single 3.5mm earphone jack and along the very edge of the picture in the plastic housing you'll see the Kensignton lock location. There is a service port cover that is visible on the far left side that covers a USB port that is needed when there are firmware updates made available. To date ASUS has not released any firmware updates for the MG279 FreeSync panel.
ASUS MG279Q Performance Tests and Power Consumption
One of the first none gaming tests that we did on the ASUS MG279Q 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 quick test to verify everything is running properly at 144Hz!
The ASUS MG279Q ran the test superbly and gave us a valid result!
We won't to do subjective monitor reviews, so we'll be using Datacolor’s Spyder 4 Eliteprofessional display calibration tools to be able to run a series of tests to get hard numbers for quantitative assessment of the display quality.
Our Spyder4Elite 4.54 colorimeter test results for the color gamut test showed that we had 100% of SRGB and 77% of AdobeRGB coverage.
The Brightness and Contrast test results showed the display had a brightness of 389 nits and a contrast ratio of 780:1, which is an excellent result. At 100% brightness the black point was 0.50.
Here is a look at all of the monitors OSD presets to give you a general idea what they do. As you can see from the table above the sRGB OSD preset is the dimmest with the Scenery OSD preset being the brightest.
When testing the color accuracy of 48 different colors we can an average result of 0.69, which is solid result.
The tone response measured at a Gama Level of 2.2 exactly.
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 in the middle 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. Some of the outside sectors were found to be up to 17% darker than the center of the display.
Here is a look at the View Info menu that details Brightness, White Point, Primaries, DeltaE, and Gamma measurements both before and after calibration.
Those that are curious about measured brightness we got a measurement of ~550 lux on our LX-1010B light meter on a white background in the middle of the screen with the brightness set at 100%, which is pretty good.
State and Brightness Setting
Manufacturer Spec (W)
Measured Power Usage (W)
Maximum Brightness (100%)
Minimum Brightness (0%)
ASUS claims the power consumption on the MG279Q gaming monitor is less than 0.5W in power saving and off mode and less than less than 38.7W when in use. ASUS used the 6.0 Energy Star display specification guidelines to come up with those numbers and that involves some fairly extensive math to come up with that figure. We plugged the ASUS MG279Q gaming monitor Kill-A-Watt power meter and measured a peak power draw of 43.8 at 100% brightness and then 0.3W in power saving mode.
Enabling AMD FreeSync On The ASUS MG279
To take advantage of the benefits of AMD FreeSync technology you'll need a monitor compatible with DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync, a compatible AMD Radeon GPU with a DisplayPort connection, a DisplayPort 1.2 cable and a compatible AMD Catalyst graphics driver (Catalyst 15.4 or newer). AMD FreeSync compatible video cards include the AMD Radeon R9 295X2, 290X, R9 290, R9 285, R7 260X and R7 260. A number of the new AMD Radeon R9 Fury and 300 series cards support AMD FreeSync, but AMD has not updated their FreeSync FAQ page to say which despite the cards launching a month ago.
We'll be using the ASUS STRIX GAMING Radeon R9 390X 8GB GDDR5 video card for testing out AMD FreeSync on the MG279Q gaming monitor.
To turn on FreeSync on the ASUS MG279Q you'll need to into the monitor's OSD and enable it under the image/FreeSync menu.
Once the monitor had AMD FreeSync technology enabled we got this pop up warning that we need to use AMD Catalyst Control Center to enable AMD FreeSync technology in the driver.
We are using AMD Catalyst 15.7 WHQL drivers and to enable AMD FreeSync we just needed to check the box that says AMD FreeSync.
When we first hooked up the monitor we tried to save some time by using one of our existing DisplayPort cables. It looks like that was a mistake as we got a number of DisplayPort errors. We switched to the provided DisplayPort 1.2 cable and didn't have any issues, so be sure to use the cable that comes with the monitor or one that is known to be DisplayPort 1.2 and not DispalyPort 1.1.
When you start a game with AMD FreeSync enabled you'll need to usually adjust the refresh rate options in the game and you can't go higher than 90Hz or FreeSync won't work. You can check your actual refresh rate at any time while gaming by going into the monitors OSD and looking at the refresh rate in the top right. With AMD FreeSync enabled you do get smoother gameplay than when using fixed refresh rates, so it's something noticeable.
Here is a quick video that AMD made that shows AMD FreeSync Technology in action at Computex.
This isn't a review on FreeSync, so let's wrap this up!
Final Thoughts and Conclusions
After using the ASUS MG279Q gaming monitor for a couple weeks we have found ourselves really enjoying the new monitor. The image quality and viewing angles on this IPS panel are impressive! We've been gaming on the ASUS ROG Swift PG287Q NVIDIA G-Sync monitor for the past year since we reviewed that monitor and the image quality on the MG279Q is superior. Using it on the test bench though has been troublesome though as we use NVIDIA, AMD and Intel graphics on the test bench and the G-Sync module flat out doesn't play nice when we are using Intel HD Graphics and we often get errors to where we can't even enter a motherboards UEFI when using that display. The ASUS MG279Q FreeSync display didn't give us any issues like that and we really enjoyed moving from the TN to IPS panel.
For just straight up 144Hz gaming the ASUS MG279Q is a great panel, but it better be as it costs $599.50 with free shipping. This puts it as one of the higher priced AMD FreeSync monitors, but it also has one of the widest FreeSync ranges and a nice IPS panel with a 2560x1440 screen resolution. There are TN models on the market or coming soon like the ASUS MG278Q that use a TN panel and have an even wider 35-144Hz AMD FreeSync range. The BenQ XL2730Z has a 27-inch TB panel with a 2560x1440 resolution and boasts an AMD FreeSync range of 40-144Hz at a lower price point than the ASUS MG279Q. Gamers are forced to pick between IPS and TN panels and the FreeSync ranges needs to be noted as it really does impact how well AMD FreeSync will work.
The ASUS MG279Q is a solid display despite being a 144Hz monitor that is FreeSync capped at 90Hz. We had an enjoyable gaming experience on the monitor and couldn't imagine being capped at 60 Hz like on some of the other panels. We wish it had Picture in Picture or HDMI 2.0 support, but not having those features aren't a deal breaker for us. The ASUS MG279Q is a solid 144Hz gaming monitor and we were impressed by how well AMD FreeSync ran despite being limted to the 35-90 Hz range. If you are looking for a 2560x1440 Adaptive-Sync gaming monitor that has fantastic picture quality, a wide range of features and the ability to support AMD FreeSync we highly recommend the ASUS MG279Q!
Legit Bottom Line: The ASUS MG279Q is a bit pricing, but this 144Hz gaming monitor with an IPS panel really looks great and has one of the best AMD FreeSync Refresh Ranges among competing IPS models at this resolution.