Testing 165Hz, Gaming, Conclusions

Testing 165Hz

Out of the box, the ASUS PG279Q does not support 165Hz refresh rates, despite what the label on the packaging might indicate. Instead, buyers will have to go into the OSD and enable overclocking, then, using an adjustable slider in 5Hz increments, select the highest refresh rate they want available. For just about any purposes that should be the maximum of 165Hz. Technically this is considered overclocking, but with both ASUS and NVIDIA part of the team promoting the feature, I would dare say that there is nearly zero risk to the hardware (or to your gaming experience) by jacking up that refresh.

After you enable it in the OSD, it should show up as an option (after a monitor restart) in Windows display settings properties, NVIDIA's Control Panel as well as one of the options when you cycle through refresh rates using the Turbo button on the monitor itself. We didn't find an issue where the Turbo button was not immediately applying the new refresh rates before we interacted with the PC – then the screen would flash and accept the new refresh rate setting. It's an odd bug that ASUS is aware of and will hopefully have an update for soon.

The first thing I noticed when using the monitor at 165 Hz in Windows is that it actually felt different than using a monitor at 144Hz. That might seem obvious, but I honestly expected the difference between a 144Hz and 165Hz to be minimal and likely imperceptible. But the mouse felt faster, the animation of the cursor was less blurry. Allyn agreed, and he is a long time user of 144Hz screens, coming from the original ROG Swift PG278Q and now the Acer XB270HU. Moving Windows and scrolling through websites looks like it is a bit sharper a bit more…unreal than it was before. The impression it left on us was a indescribable almost: Allyn said the animations were almost to an "uncanny valley" of sorts where there doesn't even appear to be redraws. 

Either way, the 165Hz refresh is great and as far as we can measure, it doesn't cause any kind of color shifting beyond the 120Hz or 144Hz settings. Highly recommended.

Gaming Impressions

For a long time, the original ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q was my favorite gaming monitor – and trust me, we have a lot of monitors in this office! That was overtaken by the Acer 144 Hz IPS G-Sync screen but now…we have another new winner. The ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q takes the variable refresh rate advantages for gaming of G-Sync and applies them to an IPS screen that is fantastically calibrated out of the box. Not only that, but it is able to do so at a refresh rate beyond anything we have tested before. Though ASUS and NVIDIA probably have to call the 165Hz settings an overclock for some legality, it's an honest feature that anyone can and should enable and take advantage of.

For gamers, the advantages of a 165Hz peak refresh rate means that variable refresh technologies like G-Sync, enabled on this panel, can scale higher without needing to resort to the older Vsync on/off scenarios. When playing games that hit high frame rates (maybe you are playing some Rocket League with the new DeLorean DLC?) you will no longer deal with Vsync introduced judder or input latency. Of course that also means you just get the enhanced draw speed of the 165Hz refresh, now down to 6.06ms each scan, that will be active as well.

For gamers that are setting quality options in modern PC games that average in the 60-90 FPS window though, you're experience with the PG279Q won't differ from the PG278Q, if you are considering only the latency, speed and interaction. Where you do have the advantage with the updated display is color reproduction and viewing angles. If you move your head around during active gaming sessions, you shouldn't have issues with colors or gamma shift as you do so! And, if you feel the need to run your panel in a portrait style mode, then the experience will be MUCH better with the IPS screen than anything using TN.

The combination of technology in the new ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q results in a user gaming experience that is basically unrivaled. I recently spent time with the Acer XR341CK FreeSync monitor, with a 21:9 3440×1440 resolution, and fell in love. But coming back to a 2560×1440 screen with a 27-in size wasn't as jarring as I expected. Despite the improvements to AMD FreeSync, NVIDIA's G-Sync still just works better. When you run into lower frame rates, NVIDIA's G-Sync module does frame doubling in an intelligent manner to maintain the tear-free variable refresh experience. And NVIDIA has just about perfected the overdrive functionality with its G-Sync module, meaning that VRR OD works as well as or better than any static refresh screen we have seen.

If you want probably the best 2560×1440 gaming experience you can get today, the ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q will provide it. FPS, action, RTS, racing, simulation: they all work fantastically.

Pricing and Availability

The ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q will ship in the first week of November and will have an MSRP of $799. That puts its pretty much on par with the currently available Acer XB270HU display that sports a 144Hz IPS G-Sync display and 2560×1440 resolution.

For this review, I asked ASUS specifically about availability. After all, with the huge debacle surrounding the original Swift's release that included months of availability concerns and price spikes, we had apprehensions that ASUS could keep up with demand. The company has assured me that they "aren’t expecting any issues" for this release. That could mean they have produced a large quantity for shipment or that they expect less of a rabid fervor for the monitors like we saw with the PG278Q. I think the latter seems likely – the initial excitement over G-Sync monitors has died down and now consumers are more interested in picking out the perfect monitor for them, not just whatever happens to hit the market.

Closing Thoughts

Every once in a while we update what we call our "reference display" at the PC Perspective offices, which is the monitor that we keep on hand to compare to every other monitor that comes after it. The original ROG Swift held that position for a while but, earlier this year, was overtaken by the Acer XB270HU. I think its fair to say that, at this point, based on all the positive experiences we've had with the new ROG Swift PG279Q, this monitor is the new king of the hill. It combines the best physical build quality with an unmatched feature set and panel capability to fit into nearly every (GeForce) gamers wish list.

Obviously there are some caveats to this monitor as there are for basically any product. If you aren't an NVIDIA GeForce user then the G-Sync capability, as well as the ability to run the monitor at 165Hz refresh rate, is lost. The price tag is also tough to swallow: at $799 the ROG Swift PG279Q is more than $200 more expensive than ASUS' own MG279Q, a 144 Hz IPS 2560×1440 FreeSync option. We know that NVIDIA continues to claim that there is no inherent price premiums for G-Sync displays, but the numbers tell us different – $200 appears to be the going rate.

But, the heart wants what it wants. And what it wants is the ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q.

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