Our main test involves using a DataColor Spyder Elite 5 Colorimeter to assess a display’s image quality. The device sits on top of the screen while the software generates colour tones and patterns, which it compares against predetermined values to work out how accurate the screen is.
The results show –
- A monitor’s maximum brightness in candelas or cd/m2 at various levels set in the OSD.
- A monitor’s contrast ratio at various brightness levels in the OSD.
- The brightness deviation across the panel.
- The black and white points
- The colour accuracy, expressed as a Delta E ratio, with a result under 3 being fine for normal use, and under 2 being great for colour-accurate design work.
- The exact gamma levels, with a comparison against preset settings in the OSD.
We first run this test with the display in its default, out-of-the-box state, with all settings on default. We then calibrate the screen using the Spyder software and run the test again.
We always test the display subjectively on the Windows desktop, using it for general tasks such as browsing and word processing, and with games as well, even if the display is not intended solely for that purpose. We pay careful attention to any artefacts, ghosting or motion blur, and enable any gaming specific features, such as adaptive-sync settings like G-Sync, using a compatible graphics card in our test PC.
In the case of the AGON, we performed the primary testing in default preset mode – Gamma 1 and Warm colour profile. We also left the monitor at 60Hz rather than 165Hz, as higher frequencies can reduce image quality performance with some screens.
First off, the uncalibrated results show a good gamut, with 100 per cent sRGB coverage and commendable 79 per cent Adobe RGB.
The first surprise comes with the brightness uniformity. We had heard rumours that there were issues in this area with the IPS panel used in the AG271QG, and this bears those rumours out, with a lot of variation in the top third, down the left and right sides, and in the bottom left corner. These results are notably behind the TN-based AG271QX.
The AG271QG starts to pull things back when we look at brightness, contrast and white points as you go up the brightness settings. Although this monitor is rated at 350cd/m2, at 100 per cent brightness it goes well beyond that to around a 50 per cent greater level. You could readily use this screen at 50 per cent brightness and enjoy the same level as many screens at 100 per cent. This mitigates the lack of uniformity, which is much more acceptable around the 50 per cent brightness setting.
Contrast is also very stable across the board, hitting 860:1 at 50 per cent brightness and above, and only dropping to 770:1 at 25 per cent brightness. The white point is also pretty stable across the brightness range, although the AG271QX was a total master in this area, with variance only at maximum brightness. Note that the default brightness for the AG271QG is 90 per cent, which seems unnecessarily high after seeing the results of this test.
The AG271QG’s more pedestrian colour settings than most gaming monitors only provide a small range of different configurations. The Warm and sRGB options are hardly different at all, with the same brightness and white point readings, and almost the same black level and contrast.
The Normal option is a little less bright, with lower contrast, and a slightly cooler colour temperature. The Cool option naturally has a much higher white point at 9000K, allied with a lower brightness and contrast.
There are three gamma presets, with Gamma 1 being the default. This equates to almost exactly 2.2. The Gamma 2 setting reduces things to a straight 2.0, whilst Gamma 3 increases to 2.4. So there is a health range of options here.
Colour fidelity is where IPS panels really pull away from their TN competitors, and without any calibration the AG271QG is much more faithful than the AG271QX, and indeed very good overall with a score of 1.02.
Next we calibrated the screen using the Spyder to see if this could improve matters even further.
No change to the colour gamut, with 100 per cent of sRGB and 79 per cent Adobe RGB – already great results.
Only infinitesimal changes to tonal range, too, with the gamma remaining at 2.2.
The already brilliant colour accuracy is now averaging 0.86. This is one of the best results we have seen from any panel we have tested.
We also tested the monitor with some games, both at the default 60Hz and the top 165Hz. With games that could deliver the higher frame rates on our test system, there was noticeably smoother animation at the higher refresh. This was even better when we enabled G-Sync on our test system’s NVIDIA Quadro K2200 graphics card. This varies the refresh to match the frame rate, within the bounds of the screen’s capability, which is 30Hz to 165Hz when overdriven, or 144Hz when not. The average casual gamer isn’t going to gain a huge amount from these much faster screen refresh rates, but if you’re competitive every frame counts for top performance.
Overall, the AG271QG has good and bad sides. The brightness uniformity issues are a little disappointing, but the colour accuracy is nothing short of brilliant, especially when calibrated. The 165Hz refresh and G-Sync will be very tempting for the serious gamer.