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AOC Gaming Q27G3XMN review: Marvellous Mini LED gaming for minor money

Our Rating :
£437.81 from
Price when reviewed : £350
inc VAT

A brilliant 27in gaming monitor offering stunning HDR at an incredible price


  • 336-zone FALD
  • Very bright and colourful
  • Good motion handling


  • Minor haloing issues
  • Limited I/O port selection
  • HDMI 2.0 rather than 2.1

Four years ago, we reviewed the Asus PG27UQ monitor – one of the first gaming monitors to arrive with a Mini LED backlight. It featured 384 dimming zones and cost a massive £2,400. Then, last year, we tested the Acer Predator X32FP , which offered 576 dimming zones and came with an asking price of £1,400.

Those were impressive displays, but AOC’s new Mini LED screen changes everything. Granted, it uses a 2,560 x 1,440 VA panel rather than a 4K IPS one like the Asus and Acer models, but it offers a 180Hz refresh rate and 336 dimming zones – and it’s yours for under £350.

To put this into context, when the Asus PG27UQ was launched, Mini LED displays were the great hope for high-end HDR gaming. Over the last year or two, that position has been usurped by a new generation of OLED monitors; just look at how many OLED monitors were announced at this year’s CES in Las Vegas compared to Mini LED.

But if Mini LED gaming monitors are going to cede the high end of the market to OLED panels, it looks like the technology may yet find a place at the cheaper end of the market – and that’s probably a very good thing for consumers.

AOC Gaming Q27G3XMN review: What do you get for your money?

The Q27G3XMN is a rather basic plastic affair, predominantly black but with some token red plastic highlights along the bottom bezel, inside the cable hole in the stand and on the back.

Agon describes it as a three-sided “borderless” design, which translates into 8mm thick black edges around the top and sides and a 20mm matte black plastic bezel at the bottom. It’s a simple frame unencumbered by flashy LED lighting; it doesn’t look too “gamer”, which you may see as a good thing… or not.

The foot of the stand is a wide and rather spindly affair, but it provides a stable base for the cabinet. The hole is handy for keeping your cables tidy, and the stand supports a full range of ergonomic adjustments, with ample tilt, height, swivel and pivot (90-degrees to the left and right) available.

Despite the plastic construction, the whole thing feels solid and well screwed together, and at just over 7Kg, including the stand, it’s easy to set up and move. As is typical these days, the quick-release stand unclips to reveal a 100 x 100mm Vesa mount.

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AOC Gaming Q27G3XMN review: What connections does it have?

Flip the Q27G3XMN over and you’ll find two HDMI 2.0 ports (so no VRR support for latest-gen consoles), one DisplayPort 1.4 connector and a 3.5mm audio jack. That’s your lot: there isn’t a single USB port of any description to be found, so you’ll need to connect all your peripherals directly to your PC, with no prospect of KVM or PiP/PbP functionality.

I understand that this keeps the price as low as possible, but I’m having a hard time convincing myself that a few USB ports would have broken the bank. It’s possible to take the idea of spending every last penny on the panel a little too far.

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AOC Gaming Q27G3XMN review: How good is the image quality?

The first thing that hits you when you power up the Q27G3XMN is just how much colour there is on display. The Agon’s very wide gamut covers 148.2% of the sRGB colour space, 104.9% of DCI-P3 and 102.1% of Adobe RGB. Those would be good numbers for a £1,000 monitor aimed at creatives; for a £350 gaming monitor, they’re superb.

Colour accuracy however is a little problematic. With the sRGB and DCI-P3 colour profiles activated I recorded mediocre Delta E measurements of 3 and 4 respectively. Surprisingly, switching to the Adobe RGB profile yielded a far more impressive Delta E of 1.4; it’s not clear why accuracy varied so much between modes, but at the end of the day this isn’t a monitor aimed at professional creatives anyway. For the price and intended audience it still does amazingly well.

Brightness levels are excellent. In my tests the Agon hit 540cd/m2 in SDR mode with FALD (full array local dimming) turned off, and over 1,300cd/m2 in HDR mode with local dimming enabled. Uniformity is impeccable too: dividing the screen into 25 swatches and measuring each with a colorimiter, I saw no noticeable deviation in either ISO or luminance levels. And I measured an out-of-the-box gamma of 2.23 – close enough to the ideal 2.2 that it’s not worth worrying about.

VA panels are known for their contrast, so it was no surprise to see the Agon achieve a massive ratio of 4,398:1 with local dimming off, and infinite contrast with local dimming turned on. The Q27G3XMN’s 336 dimming zones may not be all that many by modern standards – the professional-grade Philips 27B1U7903 monitor has 2,304 – but it’s still plenty for an immersive HDR viewing experience.

To help you get the most out of the FALD, Agon offers four HDR modes – DisplayHDR, Picture, Movie and Game – along with four local dimming settings, namely Off, Low, Medium and Strong. If you spend most of your time watching HDR video or playing HDR games, I recommend leaving the panel in DisplayHDR mode with local dimming set to Strong. Indeed, you can safely leave it on this setting even if you’re gaming in SDR mode, as it doesn’t result in excessive levels of black crush, and provides an ersatz HDR effect in games that don’t support HDR. It’s best to disable local area dimming when working on the Windows desktop, though, as haloing is noticeable when, for example, you move a white cursor against a black background.

Motion fidelity meanwhile is up there with some of the best VA panels I’ve tried. Is it OLED-sharp and fluid? No. But it is very good by IPS or VA standards, helped along by the three-level Overdrive setting, which keeps smearing and ghosting firmly under control, without producing any overshoot or adversely affecting the brightness levels.

Part of this is down to the panel’s 180Hz refresh rate (achievable over DisplayPort – with HDMI the maximum refresh rate is 144Hz). That’s high for what is essentially a budget monitor: normally if you’re paying less than £400 for a 27in gaming monitor you’ll have to make do with 165Hz, as is the case with the fine 34in Iiyama G-Master GB3467WQSU-B5 .

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AOC Gaming Q27G3XMN review: Are there any other features I should know about?

The AOC Gaming Q27G3XMN has no speakers, no remote control and, as already noted, nothing in the way of an LED light show.

If I could add one of those things I’d go for a remote control, as navigating the OSD menu via the buttons along the bottom edge of the cabinet is a pain. The icons on the front are illegible in anything other than very strong light, and the power and “Enter” buttons are right next to each other at the end of the row: I lost count of the number of times I turned the Q27G3XMN off when I meant to select a menu or setting.

Annoyingly, AOC’s G Menu app for Windows doesn’t fully solve the problem either. Although it allows access to the basic functions of the Q27G3XMN, you still need to use the cabinet buttons to access the full range of features in the menu.

Officially, the AOC Q27G3XMN only supports AMD’s FreeSync Premium Pro for variable refresh rate within the 48-180Hz range. However, even though it lacks Nvidia G-SYNC certification, I found it worked with all the GeForce RTX30 and 40 GPUs I tried, giving me tear-free gameplay at up to 180fps regardless of GPU manufacturer.

AOC Gaming Q27G3XMN review: Should I buy it?

The AOC Gaming Q27G3XMN is an exceptional monitor for the price. The Mini LED backlight may lack the thousands of lighting zones found in more expensive rivals, but it can still deliver an impressive HDR experience while you’re watching video or gaming. And motion fidelity is among the best I’ve seen from a VA monitor, at any price. AOC deserves a round of applause for managing to make such a competent display so affordable.

Its minimal connectivity might put some off, but if you’re looking for an affordable HDR display, the Q27G3XMN isn’t just the cheapest Mini LED screen we’ve seen – it’s the best all-round gaming monitor under £500, by a considerable margin.

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