The mainstream standard for PC monitors has been 1920×1080 for quite some time but QHD or 2560×1440 panels are becoming more popular with professionals due to the pixel density and larger real estate. High-end gamers tend to use 1440p instead of 4K because graphics cards are currently unable to drive 4K screens with high details at 60fps. QHD is a major step up from 1920×1080 and requires at least a R9 280X or GTX 770. In technical terms, 1920×1080 contains 2,073,600 pixels while 2560×1440 utilizes 3,686,400 pixels, an increase of 78%.
Performance benchmarks show that the ideal card to pair with a higher resolution display is an R9 290 or GTX 970 as it features 4GB VRAM and should attain good frame rates in most games barring titles like Crysis 3 or Metro Last Light. Now that QHD is a viable option, there are lots of products on the market offering this resolution including the AOC Q2770PQU which comes in at a competitive price of £349.99/$499.99. AOC’s main competitor is the Dell UltraSharp U2713HM which employs an LG AH-IPS and is extremely similar to Samsung’s PLS technology that is present in the AOC model.
Packaging any electrical component always requires a lot of careful planning but this is especially the case with monitors as screens can be easily cracked or mishandled. Thankfully, AOC have used fairly thick, durable cardboard and strong supporting polystyrene to cushion the panel during delivery. Furthermore, there is a cutout in the polystyrene for the base which holds it into position and away from the screen. The unboxing process is relatively simple as the stand is pre-attached but you need to adjust the orientation from vertical to horizontal. AOC have packaged the monitor like this so it easily fits in a flat shape. To alter the stand’s position, all you need to do is loosen the 4 screws, reposition it vertically and re-attach the screws. Then gently place the stand into the base and tighten the screw underneath until sturdy.
AOC also provide DisplayPort, Dual-Link DVI, D-sub and HDMI cables as standard so connecting the monitor to a number of different outputs is a breeze. Although, please be aware that the VGA interface is limited to 1920×1080 and running a monitor at its non-native resolution will look sub-par in most cases.
The build quality of this particular monitor is reasonably good given the budget price and greatly surprasses the ultra cheap Korean A- models. The housing is made from a matte black finish which is easy to clean and doesn’t attract huge amounts of dust. The bezel has a smooth, professional finish but it could be narrower and closer to the panel. My main area of complaint is the stand which struggles to support such a heavy 27 inch monitor. Applying any sudden impact near the monitor will cause the stand to vibrate which makes the screen fairly unstable. However, I intentionally used force during the monitor testing phase and most users shouldn’t experience too many problems if they are careful. On a more positive note, the stand can tilt, pivot, swivel and is height adjustable. This is very impressive given the low price and not something I would expect on a cheaper model.
As mentioned earlier, AOC have partnered with Samsung to use a PLS panel offering greater colour depth and better viewing angles than traditional TN screens. The 178/178 viewing angles offer a rich, crisp image and the brightness is fairly consistent across a wide range of positions. I was pleased with the viewing angles on this monitor, more so than various E-IPS and S-IPS panels I’ve tested in the past. The screen features an 8-bit colour depth and 5ms response time which results in excellent gaming performance with no noticeable motion blur and small lag of around 2 frames. The desire for lower response times like 1ms is only useful if you play games professionally or require a 120/144hz monitor. The backlight uses W-LED technology instead of CCFL and supports 100% sRGB and a brightness rating of 300 cd/m². Using LED backlights is more energy efficient so it would be surprising for a mainstream panel to still use CCFL.
Speaking of being energy efficient, the AOC Q2770PQU only utilizes 65 watts in operating mode and <0.5 watts in standby. As a result, it is economically friendly and should reduce yearly costs if you use your monitor for a long period of time each day. Another important aspect to analyse is the typical contrast ratio which comes in at 1000:1. This figure is restricted by the PLS panel type and results in a rather mediocre dynamic range between the colour gamut. Other monitors which utilize AH-IPS screens exceed this number and make the image look a lot more vibrant. However, it would be unfair to massively criticize AOC’s budget monitor based on the limitations of PLS technology.
Non-TN panels have one major downside which is backlight bleed, often referred to as “IPS glow”. Using the software MonitorTest, I was able to deduce that there is a slight hint of bleed in one corner but it is only visible on pitch black colours. The panel’s consistency is excellent and you shouldn’t notice any IPS glow during games, movies or desktop use. To put this into context, it performs a lot better than the Dell U2312HM, an E-IPS panel with very noticeable backlight bleed. I must reiterate that this is only the experience with my sample and your product may have different results.
I also used MonitorTest to check for dead pixels which can be a major irritation. The results were exemplary with no dead pixels which is well within the industry standard. Virtually every major manufacturer deems 3-5 dead pixels to be acceptable so you must be aware of this before ordering. AOC’s policy allows for 3 bright pixels to be acceptable which is satisfactory but Dell’s Premium Panel Guarantee is a much better alternative and will replace a monitor with even 1 bright pixel. Nevertheless, AOC’s 3 year warranty and customer service is excellent and if you can overlook the 3 pixel policy.
Let’s now move on to discuss the panel uniformity across white and black shades. The white balance is a little disappointing as there are discrepancies in brightness levels between the centre and both edges. The black tone fares much better and despite a minor amount of backlight bleeding, is very consistent and quite impressive.
The On Screen Display has a myriad of options allowing you to tweak a number of features including three gamma modes, overdrive settings, power saving presets and even the colour temp. I was impressed by customizability which enables you can calibrate the monitor to your own personal tastes without any major difficulties. Also, each major setting is divided into categories to improve the ease-of-use and make each option easier to find. However, it’s far from perfect as the 4 buttons underneath the panel for navigation are difficult to reach and it’s incredibly easy to press the wrong button. The buttons do have headings on but they are black on a black surface meaning it can be difficult to distinguish between them in normal lighting conditions. Overall, the UI and functionality is great but there needs to be some work done to make the actual buttons easier to use.
The other major complaint I have about this monitor is the lack of 1:1 pixel mapping and scaling for 16:10 and 4:3 aspect ratios. As a result, resolutions other than 2560×1440 lack a certain degree of sharpness and will stretch the source image instead of displaying it accurately with black bars.. While this is a little disheartening, it won’t affect you if your plan is use the monitor’s native 2560×1440 resolution.
Conclusion – Is It Worth Your Money?
The AOC Q2770PQU is a tremendous entry point into QHD displays and offers exceptional value for the money when you take into account the PLS display, adjustable stand and responsiveness of the panel during games. On the other hand, the excellent stand is sorely let down by the small and wobbly base. Out of the box calibration is not the best either but the image is stunning after an initial setup. Despite these minor grievances, AOC have produced the best 1440p budget monitor on the market which is supported by their excellent 3 year swap-and-replace warranty service.