A gaming monitor can be an easily overlooked peripheral. There might even be a prevailing thought pattern that there's no point bothering with them if they're not not obviously one of the best - e.g, 4K. And while it is a welcome sight that 4K monitors are increasingly more affordable and thus competing for the title of best gaming monitor, it's unwise to overlook others - particularly as many prove so good for both PC gamers and console players, offering gaming-focused panels that can be chock full of features. The ASUS TUF Gaming VG27AQ is such a beast.
This particular model is a 27-inch WQHD (2560 x 1440) monitor sporting an IPS panel on an ergonomic and pleasing stand, complete with a design that's both subtle and chic. No flashiness or over the top bits are present here. It's also incredibly easy to set up: all that's required is attaching the stand to the monitor with one small thumb screw on the underside of the base. Simples.
Once 'assembled', the stand offers a decent range of movements in terms of swivel, tilt and height pivot adjustments, and the monitor is ready for a VESA 100x100mm wall or arm mount if that's required. Upon booting it up and using for the very first time, one can see a small 'in-screen' bezel, as it were, but by no way is this a downside. It actually has a small upside by offering a strip of deep black adjacent to offset the main images and pictures displayed.
Starting simple, it has a restrained palette of ports. But that's fine - a multitude of ports can get a bit unwieldy, like it's trying to do too much at once. The two HDMIs, one DisplayPort, audio jack, and power cable socket are all situated on the back. Facing downwards, though, which is a little awkward at first.
In terms of screen tech features, there's a bunch to be impressed and excited about within the VG27AQ. The first few all come in a speedy package, including: a refresh rate of up to 165Hz (using Adaptive Sync Support); a response rate of 1ms; and G-Sync compatibility (it's technically a FreeSync panel first and foremost). These on their own would be the backbone of a strong gaming monitor. However, team that with ASUS' own Extreme Low Motion Blur Sync technology and the in-game pictures are some of the smoothest, tear-free, sharp gaming visuals you can get on a 1440p monitor. On top of this, the monitor has HDR: a rating of HDR10 high dynamic range for colour and brightness levels.
Attaching the monitor to either the PC or the PS4 Pro unleashed an instant impact of colour upon my eyes. The vividness of the colour on show is really punchy and full of life and makes an immediate impact. In long sessions of The Division 2, no matter the specific characteristics of each environment, the VG27AQ provides one of the best pictures I've experienced in recent times of the game. The images and gameplay are wonderfully smooth and the wildly different colours of post-apocalyptic Washington D.C are vivid, lush, and really pop out. The contrasts between full daytime, shadows, and the low light of night where handled well too, even with a dramatic and unexpected mid-game change from daytime to nighttime that occurred mid way through one session. Confirming this theme of lively and bright environments being displayed well, Assassin's Creed Odyssey proved a similarly vibrant and detailed visual delight. Every shine and glint on armor, ever blade of grass and bushy tree canopy, and, particularly, every wave and water droplet were captured exceptionally clearly. The bright and colourful elements across Apex Legends' landscape was a treat too, especially with the monitor providing a seamlessly smooth and speedy picture. It's so fast and smooth, with zero jumps, tears or smears even in the most frantic of encounters or when spinning upon launching from the ship, or frantically trying to spot enemies.
Metro Exodus is a different kind of test, however. It proves to be the perfect game to really dive into the VG27AQ's settings and witness the differences each one can give you. This was because, while the colours such as the orange subtitles, fire, and lighting pops (like Artyom's watch) are pretty strong and punchy, the monitor struggles with the range of blacks, grays and whites that Metro's tunnels and post-apocalyptic Moscow serve up. There is also some fuzziness and gauzy haze around the edge of flames and light sources. Also, anywhere that tries to be pitch black or really grimy, but had some light on it (in-game) has what seems like a thin veneer of haze over it (any real life light source nearby and the monitor's matte finish exacerbate this too). However. After spending some time getting to know the settings menu this is basically solved - switching to a different game pre-set (from FPS to sRGB or Scenery), adjusting basic settings like contrast and brightness, and altering the shadow boost helps out enormously. So, let it be known, that the range of settings are valuable and definitely make a difference.
Whether playing on the PS4 Pro or PC, the VG27AQ provides a glorious experience free of ghosting or tears. The on-by-default variable refresh rate helps here, and there is also, importantly, no eye strain in longer sessions. It is also great to view at any angle and I can easily see this being a good multi-display panel when you combine that IPS panel with its gaming spec and overall picture quality.
Overall - should you buy it?
Taking into account all its specs, features, size, tech, and price point (approximately $450 / £500), the VG27AQ carves itself an attractive little niche in the market - and owns it. It is a panel that I would wholeheartedly recommend. The slight downfalls in picture colour, haziness, and quality stop it a bit short of being a total world beater, but this is a great monitor for gamers with any machine. On the PC front, being a FreeSync monitor and being G-Sync compatible is a great big plus, and hitting that sweet spot of being a do-it-all monitor at 1440p is ideal. I can certainly imagine a pair of these looking tremendous as a double monitor setup, too.
Overall, the TUF Gaming VG27AQ shares a few overarching and quality aspects that other recent ASUS and TUF products have. They are subtle, non-flashy, and really excellent performers that offer great value for money.