Gaming Impressions, Pricing, Conclusions
Though I find myself being overly repetitive in these sections of our monitor reviews, it's obvious that some discussion about gaming on a gaming-specific monitor is necessary. The ASUS MG278Q is based on AMD's FreeSync technology, part of the DisplayPort 1.2a+ specification known as Adaptive Sync, and in my testing, the technology works very well.
I was able to play all of our normal PC gaming titles on the 2560×1440 resolution that the MG278Q provides without an issue using a R9 390X as the rendering source. If you are a stalwart 1080p user and considering upgrading to a higher resolution monitor, keep in mind that you will likely need more GPU horsepower to continue playing your games at the same image quality settings that you are used to. Anyone with a R9 380X or higher should be able to use the MG278Q without issue, and even if you do hit lower than expected frame rates in certain games, the addition of FreeSync technology prevents it from being a horrible experience.
Not only does FreeSync in the MG278Q support variable refresh rates of 42-144Hz out of the box, thanks to the latest AMD software update it can now support frame doubling to allow for smooth, variable refresh rates under 42 FPS as well. This is a big change for AMD and for its monitor partners as it means that FreeSync is now very close to matching the quality and experience that you get from G-Sync.
For our non-gaming usage, the MG278Q is an adequate solution. The 144Hz refresh rate for Windows means that mouse movement, video animation, etc. are incredibly smooth and have essentially zero blurring. However, the TN panel does come with the caveat of viewing angles and color shift from off-axis viewing, as we showed you on the previous page. If you are gamer that uses your computer for school work and web browsing when Steam is closed, the MG278Q will still get the job done. If you are looking for a color-accurate display for anything beyond that, you'll want to look into the various IPS-based options, like the ASUS MG279Q.
Pricing and Availability
As of this writing, the ASUS MG278Q sells on Newegg.com for $399 and is out of stock on Amazon.com, but sells through third parties for $475 or so. At $399, the ASUS MG278Q is nearly $200 less expensive than the MG279Q, the IPS-based 144Hz FreeSync panel also from ASUS that shares similar build quality and features. The ROG Swift PG278Q is still in the $500+ range when you can find it as well, and it represents the closest competition from ASUS on the G-Sync side of the debate.
For the price, there are other options that compete with the package that the ASUS MG278Q provides. The Acer equivalent display is about $70 more expensive on Newegg but doesn't have the polish that the latest ASUS monitors include. If you are just after FreeSync support you can get displays for less money, but you'll be reverting back to the 1920×1080 resolution – and I think that once you move to a 2560×1440 display there is no turning back.
ASUS has pretty much covered all of its bases for variable refresh rate monitors. If you want a low cost FreeSync display with a TN screen they have it with the MG278Q. If are willing to pay more for the upgrade to an IPS screen with slightly slower response times they have the MG279Q. And if you are a GeForce user rather than a Radeon user, the ROG Swift line has you covered in both of those areas as well. I expect we'll even see these options expanded upon with CES just around the corner in January of 2016. (Though, to be fair, even if we see new monitors at CES the availability of them could be much further out…)
If you are or plan to become an AMD Radeon GPU owner in the near future then there are few monitors that truly meet all of the qualifications the ASUS MG278Q does. For under $400 you can move into the world of variable refresh rate gaming, one that I think offers more advantages than nearly any other shift in the gaming market place in the past few years. AMD and the Radeon Technologies Group seems more dedicated to FreeSync than ever after our talks with them last month and the addition of Low Frame Rate Compensation makes the MG278Q an even better product. With a large 27-in screen and a 2560×1440 resolution you have all the makings of a great PC gaming experience. The only drawback is the TN screen; that is the trade off for the price advantage the MG278Q provides.