With the world in so much uncertainty at this present moment, there’s never been a better place to escape in gaming than now. It’s all well and good having the console to play the games you’d like to play, but arguably the part what makes the experience up is the display. Sure, you could get a monitor from a charity shop and spend as little money as possible, but at the end of the day, the experience you receive from that display isn’t going to blow your socks off. You need a display that comes alive and adds a new level of depth to the game that you had never noticed before. This is where AOC comes in to save the day and add an extra level of detail to games with their AG27 series of monitors.
- Wonderful HDR implementation
- Premium aluminium frame
- Heavy stand
- Brilliant audio experience
- Narrow bezel
- Adaptive brightness is amazing
- Settings can be cumbersome
When you think of displays, AOC isn’t the first name that comes to mind when the household names of Samsung, LG and Sony are around to trounce out any newcomers. That’s not to say that AOC is newcomers; far from it. They have been in the display game as long as LG have and made countless strides to creating the perfect gaming experience for everyone.
AOC was kind enough to send me their AGON AG273QZ in for review to go alongside my PS4 Pro for the sake of this review. This monitor on the spec sheet has all the bells and whistles you could ever imagine from a display, but does it enhance the reality a video game already has? Only one way to find out.
Hardware: Built like Fort Knox
For a display of this calibre, you would want it to exude a sense of premium-ness and superb quality. Luckily, like all AOC displays, this monitor is no different. Upon unboxing this display, before even seeing the monitor under all the protective casing, you’re taken aback by how vindictive the monitor stand itself is. It comes in two parts, the stand itself and the part that goes on the back of the monitor to adjust the height, and the way it is facing. What I love about every AOC monitor I have tried so far, is the sheer simplicity of putting it all together. No screws you have to go out of your way to find, no awkward holding the monitor in a certain position to fit in, and no dramas in a drama-filled world.
You put the back of the monitor into the height-adjustment module and twist it right for it to lock in place. Then all you have to do is tighten the already embedded screen to make sure it doesn’t go walkabouts upon putting it upright.
Not only is it easy to put together, but the weight of this stand is something I loved since putting them together. It’s very heavy, but that’s what you want from a display of this standard. You want something to FEEL premium while acting premium at the same time. The whole stand unit is made out of a smooth aluminium frame with an off-grey colour scheme to match anything in your surrounding gaming space. The height adjustment and swindle are made of plastic to get the most ergonomic and user-friendly experience.
Upon taking the monitor out of its protective casing, you’re enthralled by how stunning it is. I know it sounds slightly weird to call a display beautiful when it’s switched off and not even plugged in, but having little-to-no bezel, with the screen consistently hitting all edges equality and the glistening ‘AGON’ logo wonderfully presenting itself, you can’t call it anything other than beautiful. The display itself comes with ports aplenty, too. It has 2x HDMI Ports, 4x USB 3.0 Ports and a Mini USB Port for the settings panel which I’ll talk about more in the next section.
AOC call the display a ‘frameless’ bezel design, effectively meaning that there is not much room for a bezel with this whopping 27″ display.
Not only that, but this monitor comes with LightFX for the back portion of the monitor. There’s a large circular light around the back which you can change in a variety of ways: steady lighting, gradient lighting, flash lighting or turning it off altogether. It’s not exactly needed, but it sure does add to the experience when you’re gaming on these early nights.
Display: Adaptive Brightness is a Godsend
With this AOC AGON Display, it has pretty much everything from a modern display you require. 4K resolution, FreeSync support, and a wonderfully cinematic 27″ display with the little bezel to fit in around it. It’s what every display manufacturer strives towards when creating a close to perfect monitor, which is exactly what this display does.
Out of the box, the display configuration settings can be quite cumbersome to get your head around as the settings button of the display is one singular bit of hardware to change all your settings and it works in a joystick motion. Move it up to change your source, move it down to open the main settings menu, left and right are the exit buttons and pressing the button in on itself switches the monitor off.
I said this when I reviewed another AOC AGON monitor back in 2018, but I do despise this way of changing settings. I find simplicity is key when changing parts of displays with a set 4/5 buttons underneath and being clearly labelled which does which. With this AOC Display, you have to do some guesswork to find the setting you need. As soon as you familiarise yourself with it, it becomes apart of muscle memory.
One thing I adore when it comes to this display is the fact that it supports HDR in all its luminance settings. HDR can become quite scary for a lot of people as there are many avenues to go down and finding the perfect setting can be an avoidable subject to delve into, but AOC found a way around this with their presets. It comes pre-loaded with 3 base presets that cover pretty much every avenue you may be using the display for DisplayHDR (Everyday Activities), HDRGame, and HDRMovie.
Going through each one, DisplayHDR is the smallest one in terms of improvements. The contrast is just right, and the luminance is low-to-mid to not over vibrance the situations you throw at it. Colour temps lean towards the neutral side.
With HDRGame, this is where it turns it up to 11 in most situations, and as it’s for games it tends to accentuate more of the outlines and adds definition to the overall gameplay. Since FreeSync is built-in, tearing in video games is a thing of the past as well which is lovely.
One thing that works well with HDRGame is the adaptive brightness works wonders for every situation. I’m going to be honest, it must have taken the right level of wizardry to get this perfect, as it almost works like an OLED does where it doesn’t light up certain parts of the display unless it is needed. While I was playing Assassin’s Creed Valhalla on my PS4 Pro, there are parts of this game that become dark, and you can see the parts of the screen dim while the main focal points shine as bright as ever.
It also adapts to the lighting around you, so if you’re in a dark place, it notices this and adjusts the brightness to match this so you don’t blind yourself.
HDRMovie tends to mute everything surrounding you as if you want a fully cinematic experience you don’t want any distractions. Colours pop beautifully, and the contrast takes it down a notch or two to keep those blacks OLED-like. Having watched a few variations of genres with this display, every one of them fits it accordingly and knows its place with this display. What I love about this display is the fact that when you find these preset settings, you do nothing and it works around you.
Sound: Adding to the Cinematic Experience
Now when I usually play video games on either my Gaming PC or my PS4 Pro, I usually use a headset so I will go on record and say that it was really weird to get used to not having something on my head while playing something, because monitors, in general, don’t usually have the audio quality to pack that punch a headset usually does.
Luckily, with the AOC AGON display, it adds that edge that not even a headset could behold during my testing with it over these past couple of weeks.
Overall, the audio quality in most departments was exceptional beyond belief. There was no hint of tinniness from the high-end of the volume, and the amount of bass and treble it maintained no matter which volume you choose was mind-blowing. Not only that but for movies, it was one of a kind with the overall surround sound experience without having to pay the extra money for it. Combine that with the LightFX, you got yourself your mini-movie theatre with the ambience you were always striving for.
Verdict: All the Bells and Whistles
You know what, going from an old school Iiyama 24″ 1080p monitor to this was a massive shift for me, I had never really experienced 4K on such a small scale before compared to my 50″ TV in my living room, and even with that smaller scale difference it excels in everything you throw at it. Barring the awkward settings functions, once you get that all set up you don’t have to touch it again.
With all the bells and whistles this display throws at you, it’s not ‘just for the sake of it’, it adds to the overall experience this monitor provides: Stunning display quality, with true to life colour reproduction and wonderful luminance from the HDR, to the pseudo surround sound experience from the speakers and the bolstering, unmissable gargantuan monitor stand that always beg for tie attention it deserves.
This, by far, is the best display I have ever seen and I have seen a fair few in my tenure here at Mobile Tech Talk. And even for the price, it’s asking for, it’s more than worth it for the things is delivers and then some.