The price premium for high-refresh PC gaming can be pretty painful. You need a decent CPU, a powerful GPU and, of course, a high refresh display. You can’t allow any weak links. And it all costs. Plenty.
Screen size - 27-inch, 1500R curve
Panel technology - VA
Native resolution - 1920x1080
Refresh rate - 165Hz
Response time - 1ms
Contrast - 4,000:1
Brightness - 250 nits
Inputs - 2x HDMI 1.4, 1x DisplayPort 1.2, 1x VGA
Other - G-Sync Compatible, FreeSync Premium, 4x USB 3.0 hub
MSRP - $280
Mercifully, the same logic that makes increased refresh rates so expensive at the high end also works in reverse. Go for a cheaper, lower resolution display, and suddenly you don’t need such a pricey graphics card to drive those lofty frame rates.
Enter, therefore, the new AOC C27G2. It’s a 1080p panel, so it puts less load on your graphics subsystem. It won't stress your bank balance so much either—at around $260 (£240) this AOC looks like a pretty appealing proposition for a high refresh 27-inch curved monitor.
Headline stats include 165Hz refresh, 1ms response and 4,000-to-one static contrast. The latter figure implies a VA rather than IPS or TN panel, which is indeed the case. Support for both Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync are also in the mix. At this price point, G-Sync support is of the ‘Compatible’ variety. You’re not going to get an Nvidia G-Sync module in a monitor this cheap.
That’s still quite a few important boxes ticked. Drill down into the finer details of the spec sheet, however, and doubts emerge. The most worrying stat is the mere 250 nits of claimed peak brightness. In this age of 1,000 nit-plus HDR monitors, that’s not impressive. It’s not even great by SDR monitor standards, where at least 300 nits is the norm.
If that’s the theory, in practice the AOC C27G2 is a pretty mixed performer. In some regards, that’s inevitable. Stretched over a 27-inch diagonal, the 1080p native resolution translates into just 82 pixels per inch. Big, fat, fugly pixels, in other words. Given the 250 nit brightness rating, it’s likewise not a surprise to find this isn’t a terribly vibrant monitor. The C27G2 is a conspicuously SDR monitor, despite the inclusion of a rather silly ‘HDR Effect’ option, which is just one of several image modes you almost certainly won’t bother with.
So far, so predictable. The pixel response, on the other hand, now that’s something we weren’t entirely expecting. There’s no sugar coating this, the AOC C27G2 has poor response in an overtly gaming context, especially given the 1ms rating. AOC has included configurable pixel overdrive settings in the C27G2’s OSD menu, as you’d hope. However, even at the most aggressive setting, some blurring and smearing is visible just juggling windows around on the desktop. Even worse, ugly inverse ghosting appears at the highest overdrive setting, too.
Bump the overdrive down a notch to ‘medium’ and the ghosting largely disappears without much impact on other aspects of response. If that’s the good news, the bad is that the blurring and smearing remains visible in game. To take just one example, it’s a noticeable issue in the dark, moody subterranean scenes in Metro: Exodus. The harsh truth is that anyone with a memory of the poor response of VA panels of yore will find the C27G2’s performance all too familiar.
That isn’t to say, however, this is entirely a bum display. The 165Hz refresh ensures not only fluid rendering but also snappy responses to control inputs. That 4,000:1 contrast claim looks plausible, too. Blacks are super inky with almost no light bleed.
It’s a nice looking unit, too, the C27G2. OK, the plastics all feel a bit hard and scratchy. But the whole shebang feels robust and well put together, the stand is stable and adjusts for height, swivel and tilt and the slim bezels on three sides of the display ensure a contemporary, premium vibe. The overall 27-inch form factor and the panel’s subtle 1500R curve pretty much hit the sweet spot, ergonomically, while the four-port USB 3.0 hub is handy for connecting peripherals and keeping cable clutter to a minimum.
None of that, sadly, can help with this monitor’s flawed performance when it comes to what ought to be its core competence. Admittedly, at this price point something has to give. You’re not going to get impeccable panel quality and an all-encompassing feature set. But the combination of a fairly dingy, dim panel with at best mediocre pixel response is a lot to put up with, even for the money.