Lock and load.
Gigabyte is no stranger to the enthusiast gaming world. They’re well known for their wide range of motherboards and graphics cards, but one thing they’ve never tried is a gaming monitor, until now. Coming to market at $599, the AORUS AD27QD Gaming Monitor (See it at Amazon) has a lot to prove. Gigabyte has shown it knows the importance of first impressions and has loaded their monitor with a wide array of gamer-targeted features, some of which I’ve never seen on a monitor before, but does it really give you an edge in-game? Can a monitor really be “tactical?” Let’s dive in.
AORUS AD27QD – Design and Specs
On paper, the AD27QD is an impressive monitor. It’s a spacious 27-inch IPS panel with a native 1440p resolution and 144Hz refresh rate with a 1ms response time. The monitor supports 10-bit color all the way to 120Hz with HDR enabled (DisplayPort limitations drop this to 8-bit at 144Hz). It’s also VESA DisplayHDR certified, which ensures the monitor will meet specific brightness, contrast, and color standards for HDR content.
If all of that sounds foreign to you, what you really need to really need to know is this: the technology built into the AD27QD allows it to run fast, color rich, and responsive. As a gamer, I always recall the days of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 when thinking about refresh rates. Do you remember when fans would gush about how smooth Call of Duty felt compared to other games thanks to its 60 FPS frame rate? Imagine that doubled and you’ll be closer to understanding why PC gamers clamor for 144Hz displays. It also features AMD FreeSync for ultra-smooth gameplay, which I’ll get into later.
Those things by themselves wouldn’t be enough to make the AD27QD stand out from the pack. The fact that it features an IPS panel does, however. IPS is loved by content creators for its excellent colors and wide viewing angles. Compared to a VA panel like the one used in the AGON 3 AG273QCX I previously reviewed, the screen here is much more vibrant and can be clearly seen even from sharp angles.
The downside of IPS panels is that they usually have slower response times and, as a result, more ghosting in games. The AD27QD is one of precious few IPS gaming displays to feature a 1ms response time (as well as an Overdrive mode) which completely prevented ghosting during my test session.
Gigabyte has also done a great job with the physical design of the monitor. The arm of the stand comes pre-attached to the display, so it only takes one screw and connecting your cables to get up and running. The first thing I noticed was how thin the bezels were. It’s not an edge-to-edge display, as there is about a quarter-inch black border when the screen is powered on, but it does feel more expansive.
The AD27QD also has the best looking RGB I’ve seen on a monitor so far. As you can see in the picture above, they’ve taken the AORUS falcon and given it wings. Each illuminated section shifts in a smooth gradient and the wings are actually multi-layered with a subtly illuminated background. It’s not bright enough to illuminate the wall behind it in more than the faintest glow but looks great nonetheless.
The stand is also impressive. It features five inches of height adjustment, -5°~+21° of tilt, -20°~+20° of swivel. The monitor can also be rotated 90-degrees and used vertically. It is heavy, weighing just under 18 pounds, but a handle built into the top of the stand’s arm makes it easy to move. If you’d rather mount the monitor to an arm, it can also be easily detached with two buttons and used with any VESA 100×100 stand.
Finally, on the underside we have two HDMI 2.0 and one DisplayPort 1.2 ports for video out, audio connections for a gaming headset, dual USB 3.0 ports, and a joystick style controller. I’m not a big fan of joysticks for navigating a monitor’s OSD but I didn’t mind it so much here.
Inside the OSD, you’ll find a multitude of options. Seriously, this is one of the most packed display menus I’ve ever seen, easily offering more options than any of the Acer Predators, Zowies, Pixios, or AOC AGON’s I’ve used. Many of these are dedicated to gaming, but you’ll also find a number of other settings for customizing the picture profile, adjusting brightness, contrast, and color, and even enabling a low blue light mode.
It’s also here you’ll be able to set you picture-in-picture or picture-by-picture settings if you’d like to use the monitor with more than one video source at a time (great for running a console and your PC simultaneously). Your settings can also be saved across three user profiles.
AORUS AD27QD – Gaming Features
Physical design aside, the AD27QD is packed with gaming features, helping to justify the “tactical” label. Interestingly, Gigabyte lets you control all of the monitor’s settings through software so you’re not futzing about with a joystick mid-match. Downloading the OSD Sidekick app, you’ll be able to change every single setting on the fly and even program hotkeys for fast changes. The AD27QD even maps the most common gaming settings to quick CTRL+numpad combos which is fast, intuitive, and requires no setup after the software is installed.
Killer features like Black Equalizer aren’t unique to the AD27QD but provide a real competitive advantage in games. Using hotkeys, you can quickly raise or lower the black level without opening a single menu and see better into shadows. This is especially useful in games like Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 or Battlefield V where being able to spot snipers in far windows can save your life. Aim Stabilizer is another feature which reduces motion blur when turning. This was a bit harder to see for me, a casual shooter fan. Three Overdrive options are also present if ghosting is an issue.
For games that lack one, you can enable an on-screen reticle. In competitive games, this could be considered cheating, though being hardware based it’s also completely undetectable. The AD27QD is also the first monitor I’ve seen that allows you to draw a crosshair to use. I’ll admit, mine wasn’t the most practical.
The AD27QD also lets you enable two separate on-screen monitors for extra info when gaming. The first is purely for monitoring system status. Factors like CPU and GPU frequency can be pinned to a menu on your screen to keep an eye on how your system is running, though you’ll find things like CPU Temperature blank if you’re not running a Gigabyte motherboard.
The second menu allows you to pin features like a timer, counter, or FPS monitor. These can also be tied to hotkeys for easy triggering, useful if you have a skill on cooldown, are timing speed runs, or want to keep a tally over the course of a night.
The neatest feature, though, has to be the active noise cancellation. Yes, this monitor has ANC and may be the only monitor ever to feature it. Contrary to how it sounds, this doesn’t cancel noise for you, but instead cancels it for your listener through the headset connected to the display. From a teamplay perspective, this feature may be the most tactical of all since it directly enhances your communication in noisy environments.
The neatest feature, though, has to be the active noise cancellation.
A tiny microphone under the front logo picks up on the noise in your environment and cancels it out with a separate frequency. It doesn’t eliminate everything but even the lowest setting completely removed the noise of my PC’s fans. Turning it up compressed the noise of my mechanical keyboard to a quiet clatter that you could barely hear on the highest setting. It’s easy to see how this would help you clearly communicate with your team, especially in a noisy environment like a LAN.
For the most part, all of this worked well but I did run into one case where my headset audio simply stopped working. After troubleshooting, it seemed to be related to a software bug and I had to close it and power cycle the display. Using the RGB Fusion software also insisted on changing the color of my video card instead of the lights on the back of the monitor, which was annoying in my RGB Overkill Gaming PC (see what I’m talking about here).
Holding down a hotkey can also cause the program lock up for a time as it registers the repeated inputs. Making the jump to full software control is a good move for a gaming monitor but it’s clear there are still some bugs to work out.
Finally, we have AMD FreeSync variable refresh rate (VRR). VRR is a godsend for smooth gameplay, not only by eliminating screen tearing but by removing the stuttering caused by your system waiting to render frames for V-sync. If you’re playing at less than 60 FPS, this tech can vastly improve how smooth your game feels.
Thanks to recent updates from Nvidia, even gamers on Team Green can take advantage of it by enabling G-Sync in the Nvidia Control Panel. The monitor isn’t on the official list of certified displays but I was able to turn it on and immediately see it in action on the Nvidia Pendulum G-Sync Demo and in my suite of test games.
AORUS AD27QD – Performance and Gaming
I tested the performance of the monitor using Lagom’s LCD monitor test pages. The AD27QD is the best performing monitor I’ve reviewed yet. In the black and white saturation tests, I was able to discern the differences from the darkest darks to the second highest white saturation, indicating that only the brightest white scenes will lose detail (though, in games, this level is usually only when the screen is entirely whited out, like during a flashbang explosion).
In the response time test, there was no color shifting at all, even when swapping between overdrive modes, making this one of the most responsive monitors I’ve ever reviewed, even more so than the premium Acer Predator XB273K which was also running a 1ms IPS panel. Color banding was also absent. Only the Gamma test was initially off with the default setting coming in at a rating of 2.4 when standard calibrations call for 2.2. A quick change in the menu to a lower gamma option completely fixed the issue.
When it comes to high dynamic range, this display isn’t the brightest I’ve seen
When it comes to high dynamic range, this display isn’t the brightest I’ve seen but offers better luminance and contrast than an SDR monitor by a healthy margin. Peak brightness here is 400 cd/m and the contrast ratio is 1000:1. A standard dynamic range gaming monitor will tend to lag in brightness, usually coming in between 250-300cd/m.
When many articles on the subject describe “HDR,” however, they’re often referring to earlier HDR10, or 1000 nits of peak brightness, which in my opinion is just too bright for how close you sit to a monitor. Combined with 10-bit color that eliminates most color banding, the AD27QD is a great fit for HDR-enabled games like Battlefield V, which looks gorgeous.
After seeing how many gaming features this monitor brought to the table, I had to see how it would run in some games. It’s a fast-paced monitor, so fast-paced games seemed to fit the bill. My big games over this week were The Division 2, Battlefield V, and Apex Legends.
Starting with Battlefield V, I really wanted to see how the DisplayHDR 400 Certification would translate to real-world gameplay. Battlefield V is stunning on its own but is even more so with HDR enabled. The 400 cd/m brightness does mean some of the luminance details are lost but the wide color gamut (when running at 120Hz) leads to seamless blending. At 8-bit, 144 Hz, I honestly didn’t notice much of a difference since you’re in perpetual motion, but a keen eye might.
My go-to features for Battlefield V and Apex Legends were the same: Black Equalizer and Aim Stabilizer. I left Aim Stabilizer on to keep motion blur low but Black Equalizer degrades the picture with excess brightness, so I opted for hotkeys. Since there’s no quick way to instantly turn the equalizer all the way up, you either need to spam it or hold the button which can cause the software to become sluggish as it catches up.
As a work around, I instead created two profiles, one with my normal equalizer level and the other with it turned way up. From there, the monitor allowed me to peek into the shadows. This was especially useful in Apex Legends. After finding out the location of a shot, I was able to pick out enemies in buildings or in the caves better than ever before.
Aim Stabilizer reminds me a lot of 240Hz monitors: great if you’re a gamer who makes killshots while spinning, less useful at a normal pace. Across each game, the motion blur did seem to be reduced but the impact on my own gameplay was minimal at best. Professionals may have a better experience here.
The next game I played was The Division 2. This game proves that these features don’t have to be limited exclusively to competitive games. I tend to be a lone wolf through the leveling process in loot-shooters and the Black Equalizer proved to be a big help when playing solo.
By cranking up the equalizer in dark settings, I was able to see enemies coming earlier and start whittling their health down faster. I was also able to get a better bead on enemies taking potshots from the other side of big buildings.
Though I didn’t play it extensively, I also dipped my toes back into World of Warcraft. The games I usually play don’t lend themselves to the on-screen counters or timers but I suspected a cooldown heavy game like WoW just might. It did, to a degree. I loved not having to look down at my action bar to see if a skill had refreshed but since you can only set one timer it’s only good for skills with that one cooldown. I do believe there is a use case for these features but in my particular scenario, they really didn’t fit.
At 27-inches, 1440p is a perfect resolution
For each of these games, the 1440p resolution and 144Hz refresh rate were game changers. At 27-inches, 1440p is a perfect resolution, allowing you to have a crisp, high-res image without the massive performance hit of 4K resolution. 144Hz with G-Sync felt especially smooth. Having come from a 60Hz 4K monitor, the AD27QD really made me miss having this kind of smoothness on a daily basis.
The Gigabyte AORUS AD27GD Tactical Gaming Display has an MSRP of $599 and it’s usually the same price online.