Specs
Display panel

27-inch MVA panel (1800R curvature)

Resolution

1920 x 1080 (16:9)

Refresh rate

144Hz
FreeSync, Adaptive-Sync

Adjustability

60º swivel, 35º tilt, 120mm height adjustment

Ports

DisplayPort 1.2a, HDMI 2.0, VGA, 2x USB 3.0

Dimensions

612 x 574 x 266.5mm

Net weight

4.9 kilograms

Extra features

Headset holder, carry handle, LED lighting, Low Input Lag mode, Shadow Control option, flicker-free technology, low blue light mode

Price

£450 / $500

1440p and 4K monitors are becoming increasingly mainstream, but gamers on mid-range PCs may find that monitors with high refresh rates and 1080p resolution can be a better choice. Today we’re looking at one monitor that fits that description, the AOC AGON AG272FCX. This monitor has that desirable 144Hz refresh rate, Adaptive Sync and a 1800R curved VA panel. Let’s see how it performs in our full review.

 

Design

The AGON AG272FCX is an attractive monitor in AOC’s normal style, with a shiny metal stand with a tripod base. This ensures the monitor takes up minimal desk space, allowing room for small keyboards and other desk detritus to nestle between the front two legs.

The screen is curved, and if you traced the curve all the way around you would end up with a circle with a radius of 1800 millimetres  – hence its ‘1800R’ descriptor. That’s a more pronounced curve than you find on earlier 2000R or 3000R monitors, and promises a rather cinematic and immersive experience.

The back of the monitor has embedded LEDs in a wing design; the LEDs can be set to green, red or blue — sadly full RGB customisation isn’t an option! These can also be disabled, if you’d prefer a more subdued look. There’s a carry handle at the top of the stand, and a flip-out headset rest on the right side.

The monitor’s stand allows it to be adjusted higher or lower, swivelled left or right, and tilted up or down. Given the curved nature of the screen, it’s unsurprising that rotation is not an option here.

A four-way joystick on the bottom centre of the monitor, just below the AGON wordmark, is used to control the on-screen display (OSD). That just about covers the design of the monitor, so let’s move onto our impressions and benchmark results.

 

Impressions

We used the AG272FCX for a two week period, in order to give a fair assessment of its capabilities. While this is marketed primarily as a gaming monitor, we also used it to binge watch House of Cards, edit images and write this very article. Let’s get into our impressions, before looking at the more quantitative side of the picture with the benchmarks.

Design and usability

First – a few comments on the monitor’s design and usability. Right away the AG272FCX impressed me here, as the assembly instructions are printed directly onto the cardboard box, so you can’t help but notice them as you unbox the monitor.

I never read instructions for monitors, so it’s nice to have a quick reminder of how everything should fit together. It’s all fairly straightforward, although there are four screws that actually secure the monitor to the stand. Without these you’re likely to adjust the tilt angle and have the monitor come off in your hand, so it’s good that you’re reminded they exist.

The monitor’s adjustability is superb. Once screwed together, the well-crafted metal stand allows for significant height adjustment, and easy tilt and swivel controls as well. The headphone holder is useful (if a little flimsy-looking), and the carry handle is brilliant for LAN situations.

The OSD controls are nice too. The joystick means that it’s hard to access deeper settings quickly, but you avoid the accidental button presses that are common to multi-button OSD controls — particularly those annoying buttons that are located on the back or side of some monitors.

There’s also the plug-in controller which can access a bunch of different quick settings, which helps on the speed front. I like BenQ’s standard front-mounted buttons, but the joystick here works great too.

Gaming performance

The interesting thing about this monitor is that once you start to use it, you don’t really notice the curve at all. It feels totally natural; you just can see the sides of the screen a little bit more easily. This makes it easier to justify a larger display, and the 27 inches here provide a suitably cinematic feel. The only problem is that if you go back to a flat monitor, you’ll suddenly notice how odd it looks!

As you would expect, this 144Hz panel performs well in fast-paced games like Counter-Strike. You can turn up the shadow control and game colour settings to their maximum, in order to pick out enemies at long ranges and in dark corners more easily. This results in a very unrealistic, overly vibrant look, but as it’s to your competitive advantage you won’t mind too much.

I’m unable to test Adaptive Sync as our test rig uses Nvidia rather than AMD graphics. Those on the red team should benefit from reduced tearing without the traditional downside of significant added visual lag. You’ll probably want to go without any kind of synchronisation if you’re aiming at 144Hz, but the benefits are more clear-cut between 30 and 60 frames per second.

Acer XB271HU (left), AOC AGON AG272FCX

In slower games, like RPGs or strategy games, you’ll spend more time staring at the environment, and here the weaker points of this monitor come into focus: inaccurate colours and limited resolution.

Side by side with an IPS-style display (in our case, the Acer XB271HU) and you can see how washed out and unnatural the picture looks. Things improve considerably if you enable the sRGB mode, so consider enabling this if you don’t mind giving up control of your brightness, contrast and gamma settings.

Web browsing and image editing performance

The same is true for work. Image editing is unfortunately not recommended, as colours are not displayed accurately. Even just web browsing doesn’t look great, as areas of white — like web page backgrounds — appear yellowed, almost orange. Things are a bit better in films and TV, where colours are a bit more subjective and the curved display feels well suited. Once again, the sRGB mode improves things here, so it’s well worth enabling.

The 1080p resolution is unfortunately not ideal for getting stuff done, being basically the minimum resolution that allows for two windows to be used side by side. If you like to keep multiple web pages or applications on screen at once, you should consider a 1440p or even 4K monitor — it will provide a lot more real estate, and text and images will be much sharper at 27 inches too.

One last thing — the lighting on the back is cool, but the lighting on the front is fairly distracting. You can at least minimise the distraction by choosing dim red instead of bright blue, but it would be nice to control these zones separately. Full RGB controls would also be amazing, if it were technically feasible to include them.

 

Benchmarks

In order to give a good quantitative evaluation of this AOC monitor, we calibrated it using a colourimeter and then tested its contrast, colour, uniformity and more.

You can download the ICC (.ICM) color profile below. It’s always best to do your own calibration, but if that’s not possible then this may be of some help.

AOC AGON AG272FCX-1

Initial Calibration Results

Before testing, the monitor was set to 120 nits brightness and 6500K colours. sRGB mode sadly doesn’t allow brightness, contrast or gamma to be adjusted, so the user colour setting (100, 98, 95) was used instead. Brightness was set to 37, contrast 50 and gamma setting 1.

The monitor was calibrated using the Spyder4Elite colourimeter, which has some flaws but is the most advanced testing equipment we have at present — an upgrade to a X-Rite i1Display Pro is planned.

The initial calibration results show low Delta-E (error) values, at 0.3 for white point and 0.7 for 50% grey. Weirdly, the brightness gets much dimmer after calibration.

Gamut coverage

Interestingly, the Spyder4Elite colourimeter recognised the AG272FCX as a wide-gamut panel during calibration, and that’s borne out in the gamut readouts. The monitor hits 98% of sRGB (a little below expectations), but then manages 88% of NTSC and 91% of AdobeRGB — much harder targets. However, as a gaming monitor first and foremost, gamut coverage is relatively inconsequential.

Brightness and contrast at different brightness settings

If we look at the brightness and contrast at different brightness settings, we can see that the colourimeter reports contrast ratios a little higher than the BenQ monitor we reviewed earlier, which has the same stated 3000:1 contrast ratio. The Spyder4Elite consistently underreads contrast, so I’m happy that the monitor meets or exceeds its stated contrast ratio. The trend is more useful, with the monitor offering slightly higher levels of contrast (and colder temperatures, in turn) as brightness increases.

Gamma, tone response and grey ramp

The gamma results are all over the place; literally off the graph in many parts. We checked each of the three gamma settings separately, and found that each setting was off from the 2.2 ideal by a decent margin. The grey ramps were also peculiar.

I wonder if this is an artefact of the curved screen, perhaps letting a little light in as the colourimeter does its job? (Game Mode, Shadow Control, Game Color and other settings are at their standard levels, so none of these should be the root of the problem).

With sRGB mode enabled, a more reasonable gamma setting — 2.1 — is set and (largely) adhered to. Here are the tone response results from the sRGB mode.

Colour accuracy

Moving swiftly on, we come to colour accuracy. Here the panel performs as expected, with relatively high inaccuracy across the board. Normally we see the teal shade (ID 1F) as the outlier, but here we have error values around 3.00 across the board. The average, 2.70, is okay but nothing to write home about. These values suggest that this monitor shouldn’t be your first choice for colour-sensitive work.

We re-ran these tests using 170 nits brightness and the sRGB mode, and got these results… notably better in grey-scale, worse in colours. The measured gamut also dropped from 98% sRGB to 86% sRGB when sRGB mode was enabled… weird.

Colour uniformity

Colour uniformity is another area that this panel could do well, but unfortunately we have only decent results here. The panel shows fairly high Delta-E values in the bottom left and right corners, which don’t fade significantly as brightness lowers.

Luminance uniformity

Luminance uniformity is a similar story, with the panel being only just within acceptable realms of deviation from 100% brightness to 50% brightness. The lower right panel is the outlier, reading around 8% dimmer than its fellows.

Monitor rating

We’ll conclude with a look at the Spyder’s overall rating. It’s a mixed bag, truth be told, with the monitor receiving electronic accolades for its gamut, contrast ratios and colour uniformity. Meanwhile, the tone response, white point, luminance uniformity and colour accuracy are all called into question. I would lump colour uniformity in the ‘disappointing’ category, but otherwise I would say this assessment is fairly accurate.

The monitor’s contrast and gamut are beyond reproach, but its failings in other areas ensure that gaming will be its best use case, not video or image editing. That’s what we’d expect from a gaming monitor, but it’s a shame that the AGON couldn’t pull double duty.

 

Wrapping up

The AG272FCX is a great choice for Counter-Strike, PUBG, Overwatch and other fast-paced games, thanks to its fast refresh rate, easy adjustability and game-focused modes. It’s less of an obvious choice for other games and more general use. You can certainly edit the odd photo, surf the web and watch Netflix, but you’d get far better results with an IPS monitor that provides a less washed-out look and more accurate colours. The AG272FCX may be a one-trick pony then, but at least it’s a good trick.

Links

Pros

☆ 144 Hz display provides a fluid in-game experience
☆ Vibrance and shadow controls are perfect for CS:GO and other shooters
☆ Excellent adjustability and OSD controls make setup easy
☆ The monitor's sleek metal design appeals

Cons

☆ The monitor struggles with inaccurate colours and a washed-out look
☆ Disappointing benchmark results
☆ Front LED is distracting

Our Rating
User Rating
Rate Here
Design
9.0
7.7
Features
8.0
8.0
Performance
6.0
8.0
Value
7.0
8.6
The bottom line

The AG272FCX is essentially a one-trick pony: well equipped for fast shooters like CS:GO and PUBG, but inaccurate colours and a washed out look will hamper web browsing and image editing. As a dedicated gaming display it's fine, but for general purpose use we'd recommend an IPS display.

7.5
Our Rating
8.1
User Rating
8 ratings
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About The Author
William Judd

Editor-in-Chief for XSReviews. Find me @wsjudd or on G+.

  • Stella Wang

    good work as always!