The Aorus AD27QD has plenty to offer, but it’s a tough sell against strong rivals with lower price tags
- 144Hz refresh rate at 1440p
- FreeSync and G-Sync certified
- Excellent software-based controls
- Low brightness in custom display modes
- Comparatively slow response times
Gigabyte has been manufacturing computer components since 1986 but strangely it’s never dipped its toes into the monitor market – until now. The Aorus AD27QD is a confident debut, a fully-fledged gaming monitor with all the bells and whistles.
There are a few things, however, that set it apart from the crowd: while most gaming monitors use one of AU Optronics’ LCD panels, Gigabyte has opted to partner with Innolux – a lesser-known manufacturer of LCD panels, which not long ago, announced its plans to build high-end gaming displays. Its competitors, AU Optronics, has been at it for over a decade.
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Gigabyte Aorus AD27QD review: What you need to know
Newcomer Gigabyte has brought some fresh ideas to the monitor market. One is a software-based control interface, which lets you adjust the monitor’s settings from within Windows, rather than having to fiddle with the native controls. Elsewhere, thanks to a set of mics that reside within the monitor’s frame, the 3.5mm mic jack input features active noise cancelling (ANC) technology.
The display itself has an impressive specification, too. It’s a 27in 1440p IPS panel that runs at a super-smooth 144Hz, with support for both AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync. It’s also VESA-certified to meet the DisplayHDR 400 standard, for tonal depth beyond what you can expect from the average monitor. Clearly, this is a screen that’s tailor-made to appeal to avid gamers.
Gigabyte Aorus AD27QD review: Price and competition
The AD27QD ticks a lot of boxes, but that comes at a cost. It retails at £535, meaning it’s more expensive than Samsung’s fantastic C27CHG70 HDR gaming monitor – which costs £470 – and far pricier than AOC’s £390, 31.5in AG322QC4.
If you’re specifically looking for the best gaming performance, Acer’s excellent XF270HUA also deserves consideration. While it doesn’t support HDR, its ultra-responsive 144Hz 1440p panel is a force to be reckoned with and, sitting between £403-£480, it is, once again, quite a bit cheaper than the Gigabyte Aorus.
Gigabyte Aorus AD27QD review: Design, features and build quality
The Aorus AD27QD does offer some distinctive features for the money. For me, the star of the show is OSD Sidekick, a Windows application that – once you’ve hooked up a simple USB cable from your PC to the monitor – lets you access the AD27QD’s settings from the comfort of your desktop. I’ve yet to come across anything similar from other manufacturers, but once you’ve tried it, it’s a game-changer.
You also get Gigabyte’s RGB Fusion app, which allows you to customise the rear-mounted RGB lights. This is a bit less revolutionary and the lights themselves aren’t particularly bright, but still it’s a fun bit of eye candy.
For old-schoolers (and those who don’t run Windows), you can also access the monitor’s settings via a conventional native OSD, which is controlled by a physical joystick button along the bottom edge of the monitor. Changes you make in one interface are reflected in the other, but it’s a bit annoying that the two menu systems have completely different layouts, and that the built-in OSD doesn’t give you access to the ANC microphone settings.
Still, this isn’t a huge loss. It’s a nice idea: if you connect a microphone to your PC through the monitor’s 3.5mm audio input, a set of built-in microphones situated around the bezels are used to detect and subtract ambient noise from the signal. However, I found that recording quality was poor: you’ll get better sound overall if you stick to your motherboard’s built-in soundcard – or, better still, grab a dirt-cheap USB audio adapter off Amazon.
For video input, Gigabyte provides two HDMI 2 ports and a single DisplayPort 1.2 socket. It’s fully certified for AMD FreeSync, so owners of supported Radeon cards can enjoy tear-free gaming – and Nvidia fans aren’t left out either, as you can unofficially enable G-Sync over a DisplayPort connection with a GeForce 10-Series card or above. We’re happy to note that both systems work in combination with HDR: with G-Sync enabled on my Nvidia GTX 1080 graphics card, I had no problem playing Destiny 2 at 1440p with a 144Hz refresh rate and HDR graphics.
The 27in panel is flat rather than curved, which might disappoint those wanting that extra layer of immersion. However, the three-sided borderless design looks sharp and the triangular stand is pretty flexible: it provides -5° to 21°of tilt, -20° to 20° of swivel and 130mm of height adjustment, and it can also pivot by a full 90°. If you’d prefer to mount the display on a wall or a different stand, there’s a 100 x 100mm VESA mount around the back, and a handle at the top makes it easy to transport.
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Gigabyte Aorus AD27QD review: Image quality
Like most consumer HDR displays, the Gigabyte Aorus AD27QD doesn’t use a true 10-bit panel. It’s actually 8-bit with FRC, which means it uses dynamic colour blending to achieve its extended tonal range. This isn’t a problem, though: in practice, you’d be extremely hard pushed to detect the difference between this and a genuine 10-bit display, and it’s a definite step up from a regular 8-bit panel.
Indeed, we found colour reproduction was excellent, with the i1 DisplayPro calibrator reporting an average Delta E of 1.43 – an outstanding result for a gaming panel. It’s not quite a match for Acer’s XF270HUA, which averaged 1.33, but it’s comfortably ahead of Samsung’s C27CHG70, which only scored 1.75 (despite using the same FRC technology). The AD27QD is also vivid, covering almost the entirety of the sRGB gamut colour space with a punchy contrast ratio of 1,214:1.
As for brightness, that depends on which display mode you choose. The pre-calibrated sRGB mode achieves a peak of 190cd/m², which isn’t exactly dazzling, but disable it and the monitor is capable of pumping out a far more impressive 495cd/m² – well beyond the 350cd/m² claimed by Gigabyte (and required by the DisplayHDR 400 certification). It’s outclassed by the Samsung CHG70, however, whose peak of 677cd/m² really brings out the depth and richness of HDR content.
Gigabyte Aorus AD27QD review: Gaming performance
If you’re on the hunt for a smooth, sharp gaming experience, the appeal of a 2,560 x 1,440 display with a 144Hz refresh rate is obvious. AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync certainly don’t hurt either.
Aside from this, the AD27QD offers a few specialised settings for gamers. An interesting one is the Aim Stabiliser display mode. You don’t get the maximum brightness in this mode – it’s not much brighter than sRGB mode – but it vastly reduces motion blur and boosts the overall responsiveness of the panel. It’s great for playing at night, but I found the limited brightness frustrating during the day and ended up going back to standard mode.
There are also some Overdrive settings that you can manually tinker with. I found that “Balance” mode offered the best experience in Destiny 2, with acceptable response time for casual gaming and limited inverse ghosting. Switching to a competitive FPS such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, I found myself leaning towards “Speed” mode; this boosts pixel response further, but it came at the expense of more noticeable inverse ghosting and purple trailing.
While the AD27QD’s panel is great for casual gaming, therefore, for competitive scenarios it ranks behind the Acer XF270HUA, which boasts very limited overshoot on the highest Overdrive setting. However, the Gigabyte does match the very low input lag of the Acer, with no noticeable delay in mouse swipes or clicks.
Gigabyte Aorus AD27QD review: Verdict
For a first crack at the monitor market, the Gigabyte Aorus AD27QD makes an impressive statement. The panel is fast and sharp with excellent HDR colour, the software-based OSD is a fantastic and the inclusion of FreeSync and G-Sync compatibility only sweeten the deal.
Not everything is perfect, though. The ANC feature isn’t as great as it sounds and the dedicated gaming modes come with caveats. Perhaps more to the point, the AD27QD doesn’t beat out the market leaders in key areas: if HDR visuals are your priority, Samsung’s super-bright CHG70 is a better bet at £470, while if you’re looking for gaming performance, Acer’s XF270HUA is the best around, with an IPS panel that matches the Aorus’ resolution and refresh rate for lot less money.
The Aorus AD27QD is a striking and very likeable monitor, and it’s great to see some new ideas coming into the market. At £535, though, it’s very hard to recommend ahead of its more established rivals.