Gaming Impressions, Pricing, and Final Thoughts
Gaming Impressions (Ryan's Note):
As with most of all of our reviews of the new variable refresh rate technology based monitors, the ASUS MG279Q requires some discussion of the gaming experience it provides. Though clearly it doesn't provide the same range that the ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q or the Acer XB270HU with the 144 Hz peak variable refresh rate, the MG279Q from ASUS is the first FreeSync monitor that provides enough a range, and a range in the right location, to making gaming on it not only feasible but enjoyable and recommended.
I spent some time with the brand new AMD Fury X card and the MG279Q and played through a host of games of the course of a few hours to see for myself how this display handled it all. The variable refresh rate range of 35 Hz to 90 Hz when in FreeSync mode provides ample room for your graphics card render rate to find a comfortable location. Any time you are gaming at 35 FPS up to 90 FPS you'll be in that middle zone, where frames are presented without horizontal tearing and without the judder normally associated with V-sync enabled setups.
Playing Grand Theft Auto V at 2560×1440 at our standard benchmark image quality settings resulted in average frame rates around 45; perfect for taking advantage of the FreeSync capability without the annoyance of vertical synchronization options. The image quality was smooth and tear free and almost always was as the level of quality we see in our various G-Sync monitors in the office. The only exception was when the frame rate did dip below the 35 FPS mark a handful of times. When it did do that there was an immediately noticeable jump to a torn-screen when we had vertical sync disabled and as I have reported several times in that past, it is this transition that is most jarring, not the tearing itself.
Other games were great too; I played some GRID 2, Metro: Last Light, even Batman: Arkham Knight (despite it's many issue) and the variable refresh rate capability kept the frame rate and game play smooth when inside that 35-90 Hz window. In a couple of games where the frame rate was able to go over 90 FPS, like in GRID 2, you again have to deal with the V-Sync enabled or disabled debate; a frame rate of 110 FPS results in either frame tearing or slight frame judder from VSync, but because of the monitor using that 90 Hz refresh time, both problems are less impactful than if you were using a 60 Hz panel, for example.
Obviously we would love to see the ASUS MG279Q or any other FreeSync monitor be able to run at a 144 Hz variable refresh rate with a 1 FPS minimum (like we see with the Acer XB270HU IPS screen) but current scalars that are compatible with FreeSync and DisplayPort 1.2a Adaptive Sync protocol just don't seem to be up to the task. I'm sure we'll get there, it's just a matter of time. I would also like to see AMD implement some kind of frame doubling capability to FreeSync (likely via a driver) that would enable even lower minimum variable refresh rates; getting the bottom level down to even 17-20 FPS would make a huge difference in playability.
For non-gaming purposes the MG279Q offers the ability to switch to a fixed 144 Hz refresh rate though I really think that leaving the display at the 90 Hz level and keeping FreeSync on is probably what most gamers will do. It's a bit odd to see the monitor advertised as a 144 Hz display, even though the panel is definitely capable of running it, knowing that the main selling point of FreeSync is limited to 90 Hz.
It's not perfect yet, but the ASUS MG279Q FreeSync monitor is clearly the best AMD-capable variable refresh display we have used and I finally have a recommendation for Radeon users wanting to dive in.
- Finally a 1440P IPS FreeSync panel!
- FreeSync mode functions down to 35Hz (other panels bottom at 40Hz or higher)
- Nice design, borrowing many cues from the ROG Swift
- No external power brick needed
- FreeSync mode limited to 90Hz on the high side
- FreeSync still has a variable refresh bottom limit
Pricing and Availability
The MG279Q ships with a three year limited warranty.
$599 is a great price for an IPS Variable Refresh Rate capable panel, and it certainly gives the ROG Swift (~$800) and Acer Predator (~$750) a run for their money. When comparing with other FreeSync displays, the closest competitor is the BenQ XL2730Z which matches the price of this new ASUS display but uses a TN LCD (it does have a higher VRR window though).
We were pleasantly surprised with the ASUS MG279Q. The build quality exceeds all other FreeSync displays tested to date. The IPS-type 1440P display offers great color reproduction and viewing angles, and is capable of 144Hz maximum (static) refresh rates. The FreeSync variable refresh rate window of 35-90Hz is a bit of a compromise at the high end but achieves the lowest minimum refresh rate of any available FreeSync display to date. The BenQ XL2730Z is a worthy alternative for those seeking lower latencies and a higher FPS variable refresh window, but that display carries with it the disadvantages of a TN panel. As it stands, the ASUS MG279Q is the best looking FreeSync compatible display we have reviewed so far!