The ViewSonic XG2703-GS (See it on Amazon) sits at the top of the company’s lineup of 27-inch gaming monitors. Its headline-grabbing features are NVidia G-Sync adaptive refresh rate technology, WQHD 2560×1440 resolution, and an insanely high 165Hz refresh rate. These features add up to an incredible gaming experience but naturally they don’t come cheap as the XG2703-GS carries a hefty price tag of $699.99, but that’s par for the course when it comes to G-Sync enabled displays.
To wit, the 27-inch ViewSonic XG2701 is basically the same monitor except it sports AMD’s FreeSync technology, and it’s almost half the price at $339. To be fair it uses a cheaper, lower-resolution 1080p TN panel and has a slightly lower 144Hz refresh rate. The XG2703-GS competes directly with the Asus ROG Swift PG278QR, which has the same specs and the same price, but comes in a red/black theme.
Before I detail the display’s many features and the results of my hands-on testing, let’s start with a chart of the manufacturer-supplied specs:
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This 27-inch widescreen gaming monitor features a fairly straightforward, matte black cabinet. The only details that reveal it’s meant for gamers is an LED light on the base of the stand and three lime green highlights that are meant to convey its Nvidia alliance (ViewSonic’s displays that feature AMD’s competing FreeSync technology, such as the XG2401, feature red trim.) The base is sturdy and keeps firm hold of the display while offering full adjustability including tilt, swivel, 90 degree rotation for portrait mode, and height adjustment. On the back of the stand is a small hook that swings out for headphone storage, but it’s a bit difficult to access since it’s behind the monitor.
The XG2703-GS features just two video inputs; HDMI and DisplayPort. Though that might seem skimpy since it lacks DVI and VGA, their absence isn’t a drawback since you have to use DisplayPort to utilize Nvidia’s G-Sync and the 165Hz refresh rate. Also, ViewSonic only provides a DisplayPort cable in the box, which is helpful and underscores the previous point. If you were to use HDMI you’d be stuck at 60Hz, so there’s no reason to do that aside from if you’re stuck on a laptop. There are plenty of USB ports, with two USB 3.0 ports underneath the panel that are difficult to access, and two USB 2.0 ports on the right-side of the monitor for your headset or mouse. There’s also a 3.5mm audio jack for external speakers or headphones, and the display features a pair of weak, 2-watt speakers that most gamers will ignore in favor of headphones or external speakers.
The display features five function buttons above the power button on the back edge the right bezel. The top button lets you switch among six gaming profiles: two First-Person Shooter (FPS) presets, a Real-Time Strategy (RTS) preset, a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) preset, and two customizable Gamer presets. The other buttons let you adjust brightness and contrast, color settings, and access four view modes: Standard, Game, Movie and Web. Choose the Standard mode and you can access additional picture settings, including Dark Boost, which I’ll cover in the next section. In short, Dark Boost is awesome. Lastly, you can use the OSD to change the color of the LED light in the base to red, green or blue. I chose green to match the Team Nvidia green trim.
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I used Lagom LCD monitor test pages to measure performance including black and white levels, color gradient, and response time. The ViewSonic XG2703-GS breezed through the tests, showing excellent black and white levels and no banding in the Gradient test. It was perfect on the Black level test too, with all squares distinguishable. It was nearly perfect on the White saturation test, where only the last grid was not distinguishable from the background indicating at the highest levels of white it failed to render detail.
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Banding is an issue that can occur in gaming, in which color and brightness variations show lines and bands rather than smooth color. The Lagom test uses grayscale gradients, and a poor monitor will show not just bands, but color when it can’t render the image properly. The XG2703 showed a bit of banding at the start of the test but was easily corrected by dialing back the display’s contrast setting.
To test response time, which measures how well a monitor reacts to changes in gray levels, the Lagom test uses eight test patterns with pixels that are switched on and off. On the best gaming monitors, these flashing patterns are undetectable; in fast-paced gameplay, this translates to minimal or no motion blur. The XG2703-GS was nearly perfect, scoring a -10, the next best score to a perfect 0 where there is no flicker on this test.
After putting the display through its paces on the Lagom tests, I got to gaming. I played Battlefield 3, Burnout Paradise and Doom and graphics looked razor sharp and gameplay looked and felt consistently smooth. Nvidia’s G-Sync technology prevented screen tearing and stutter, but I must admit I also didn’t see many artifacts with it disabled. The benefit of G-Sync was noticeable only when I panned quickly in Battlefield 3 or went careening out-of-control around a corner in Burnout Paradise. The benefits of the display’s Dark Boost were more evident, especially with a game like Doom where you are creeping around in the dark. With Dark Boost, the contrast improved so details popped in dark scenes. As I wrote earlier with an HDMI connection, the display has a 60Hz refresh rate, but with DisplayPort it’s set to 144Hz but can be overclocked to 165Hz using the OSD. It may be hard for many gamers to achieve framerates approaching 144 or 165, particularly at this monitor’s high resolution of 2560×1440, but a monitor is a purchase that can reasonably be expected to have a long lifespan, so it’s comforting to have that overhead for future graphics cards that will be able to run games at that insane level. And of course if you have a beastly machine now, you can already take advantage.
Lastly, instead of using a cheap TN panel like most high refresh rate monitors this one uses an “IPS-type” panel. Though details are a bit hard to come by it seems like a VA panel essentially, which has better color reproduction and viewing angles than a TN panel. In my testing colors looked accurate and viewing angles were stellar. The tradeoff with this type of panel vs. a TN panel is slower response times, so it has a 4ms response time, but in my experience it was still more than fast enough. I noticed no difference between the XG2703-GS and the Asus Swift PG278QR, a TN panel with a 1ms response time.
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The ViewSonic XG2703-GS has an MSRP of $699.99 and as of now has held very steady at that price, with no significant discounts to be found online:
- See the ViewSonic XG2703-GS on Amazon
This article was originally published by IGN.COM