Are AOC Gaming Monitors Fast Enough to Live Up to the Potential of Mini-LED

As manufacturers continue to push the boundaries of refresh rates and new panel technologies, the competition for the best gaming monitor is intensifying. This includes an increasing number of 1440p displays that can run at 240Hz for an incredibly smooth gaming experience. One such example is the 27-inch AOC AGON PRO AG274QZM, which employs mini-LED backlighting and pushes well over 1000 nits of peak brightness in HDR and is available at Amazon for $1,099.99. But when there are appealing alternatives with fewer or no fading concerns, it’s not nearly worth the asking price.

Pros:

Superb motion clarity and response
Valuable additional features
Extremely bright display

Cons:

Mediocre calibration out of the box
Disappointing high dynamic range performance
High cost for a 1440p monitor

AOC AGON PRO AG274QZM
AOC AGON PRO AG274QZM

About the AOC AGON PRO AG274QZM

The AOC AGON PRO AG274QZM is a high-end gaming monitor that boasts impressive specs. It has a 27-inch display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels and a refresh rate of 240Hz, making it ideal for fast-paced games. The monitor also gets extremely bright with a peak brightness of 750 nits (rated) and 1000 nits peak with HDR enabled (rated), and it supports VESA DisplayHDR 1000 for a great HDR viewing experience. The color depth of the monitor is 10-bit, with color saturation reaching 99.8% sRGB (tested), 92.7% DCI-P3 (tested), and 96.7% AdobeRGB (tested). The contrast ratio is rated at 1,000:1, with a rated dynamic contrast ratio of 80 million:1, and the pixel response time (GtG) is just 1 ms. The monitor also comes with various ports including 1x DisplayPort 1.4, 2x HDMI 2.1, 1x USB Type-C (DP alt mode, upstream) with 65 watts of power delivery, 4x USB Type-A at USB 3.2, microphone in, and 3.5mm headphone out. Additionally, it has VRR support, including AMD FreeSync Premium and G-Sync compatible, for smoother gaming experiences. Other features of this monitor include a VESA mount, integrated KVM, 2x 5-watt speakers, 576 local dimming zones, addressable rear RGB, OSD control pad, included light control hood, integrated headset stick, and holographic logo projector in the stand. However, there are a few drawbacks to consider, such as its expensive price tag of $1,050, poor calibration out of the box, and disappointing HDR performance. Overall, the AOC AGON PRO AG274QZM is a feature-packed monitor that would satisfy the needs of most serious gamers.

Features:

The lightning-quick display

It’s critical that they have pixel refresh rates that can stay up as 240Hz and 1440p gaming monitors enter the mainstream (driven by the availability of top-tier graphics cards like Nvidia’s RTX 4090). Even if a monitor has a high refresh rate, ghosting or smearing trails behind moving objects are frequently seen if the pixels can’t adjust quickly enough to match.

Thankfully, the AOC AGON PRO AG274QZM doesn’t have that problem. With Overdrive deactivated, it still produces incredibly quick and clear images, so I didn’t need to overdrive the pixel reaction time at the expense of color fidelity. In fact, even when frantically shifting the camera in Returnal and Overwatch 2, I never once noticed ghostly trails behind moving objects or bullets. Even in the very dark and congested settings of Returnal, the scene never turns murky. That holds true for the Blur Busters UFO test as well. On the test pattern, I can’t see any motion trails or judder, making the AGON PRO AG274QZM one of the greatest non-OLED displays I’ve ever seen for motion clarity.

AOC AGON PRO AG274QZM Display
AOC AGON PRO AG274QZM Display

Additionally, the contrast is respectable for an IPS panel. Local dimming zones are frequently used by monitors to increase their contrast rating, and when they are switched off, they are unable to compete. Consider the Sony Inzone M9, which went from having a 1064:1 contrast ratio when local dimming was active to only having a 935:1 contrast ratio when it was disabled. With the AGON PRO, this isn’t the case, as I saw a respectable contrast ratio of 1138:1 without local dimming, which is slightly higher than the typical 1000:1 for these panels.

I observed that games like Control and Returnal are more “gray” than atmospherically dark and that the contrast ratio is more the product of beautiful white levels than deep blacks.
That blinding light

In order to create the local dimming zones, mini-LED displays use conventional IPS panels that are backed by a gridded array of tiny LEDs. Mini-LED displays can reach incredibly bright even though local dimming naturally isn’t as good as an OLED panel like the LG UltraGear OLED 27GR95QE-B where every pixel is individually self-lit. The AGON PRO AG274QZM delivers on that front. I measured a blinding peak brightness of 1348 nits with HDR enabled, compared to a peak brightness of 680 nits in SDR.

With HDR enabled, you should set an in-game cap to keep the highlights under control and prevent your whites from being blown out. That falls a little short of the 750 nits peak brightness in SDR that AOC specifies, but given that most less expensive monitors can only hit about 400 nits, I still find myself keeping the monitor at about 70% brightness.

It also shows to be brilliant and color accurate after calibrating the display and setting everything up. I observed conventional sRGB coverage of 99.8%, as well as very decent 92.7%, 96.7%, and exceptional 92.7%, DCI-P3, and AdobeRGB coverage. While it may appear that the AGON PRO AG274QZM is a good choice for artistic tasks like picture and video editing, the color reproduction might not be precise enough.

I found that the average Delta E, or the difference between what is specified and what is actually measured, was 1.45, which is so low that errors won’t be visible to the unaided eye, but that the greatest Delta E for white was 3.59. Again, most people probably won’t notice, but if your job is really color sensitive, it could not be acceptable. Additionally, viewing angles are consistently great and free of distortion or off-coloring.

Excessively Large Quantity of Extras:

“Unboxing the AOC AGON PRO AG274QZM: Indestructible Shipping, Holographic Logo Projector, and More!”
If you’re tired of receiving broken monitors due to shipping mishaps, the AOC AGON PRO AG274QZM has got you covered. AOC packages the panel in a thick cocoon of styrofoam to ensure its safe arrival. Inside the box, you’ll find a packaging pod containing a solid stand with an integrated holographic logo projector, a disc-shaped remote, and an anti-glare hood. But that’s not all! The package also includes a massive 330-watt power brick, officially the largest and heaviest on the market.

The monitor has plenty of quality-of-life features too. It comes with a headset rest that slides out of the back, programmable RGB lighting on the backside, and an absurd amount of USB connectivity, including integrated KVM for device switching. It even has two 5-watt speakers, which aren’t amazing but better than nothing.

What’s more, the USB-C port delivers up to 65 watts of power, making it perfect for devices like the Steam Deck or MacBook Pro 13 M2. With this monitor, you’ll be able to play indie games at 240Hz while keeping your devices charged. The AOC AGON PRO AG274QZM is a monitor that truly delivers on its promises, from its indestructible shipping to its high-end features. It’s definitely worth considering if you’re in the market for a high-quality monitor.

Dislikes:

Local Dimming Crushes Color and Detail:

Shine bright like a diamond – except when local dimming is on. The AGON PRO AG274QZM may have an impressive 576 dimming zones, but local dimming isn’t always the way to go. Instead of simply dimming each zone, AOC’s implementation of dynamic contrast often leads to color and detail being crushed and blown out. Dark images against white grids create a strange halo effect, while pure white text in menus ends up looking dim and washed out. However, when HDR is enabled and local dimming is turned off, the colors and highlights truly shine. Whether traversing a dusty desert in Horizon Zero Dawn or swinging through a snowy Manhattan in Spider-Man: Miles Morales, the richness and depth of the colors are more discernible than in SDR. With the panel’s true 10-bit color output at 240Hz, it’s no surprise that the monitor performs well in brighter scenes. Just don’t expect it to handle dark caves in Horizon Zero Dawn with the same level of detail.

AOC-Agon-Pro-AG324UX-Review
AOC-Agon-Pro-AG324UX Review

Poor Out-Of-the-Box Calibration:

The AGON PRO AG274QZM is capable of producing an impressive array of colors with a high degree of accuracy, but achieving that level of performance was no easy feat. Straight out of the box, the monitor’s default “warm” color profile left everything with an unappealing orange hue. Even after switching to the “normal” profile and calibrating the display, everything still had a reddish tinge, and black-and-white photos appeared more sepia than monochrome.
Eventually, I was able to rectify the situation by selecting the “cool” preset and creating a custom user-defined profile that was closer to my desired color balance. But the process of achieving a satisfactory result was far from easy and left me feeling frustrated – not exactly what you’d expect from a high-end monitor costing $1,050.
In addition to the color calibration woes, the setup process itself was a bit of a hassle. The monitor is bulky and heavy, and it took some patience to get it properly mounted on my dual-end monitor arm after testing the included stand. And to make matters worse, the monitor runs quite hot and emitted a noticeable “hot electronics” odor for the first couple of days of use.

Price:

Mini-LED and OLED monitors are the future of display technology, but they’re not yet affordable for most consumers. The AGON PRO AG274QZM may cost a hefty $1,050, but it’s a dream come true for hardcore gamers seeking high-speed performance. However, for the average user, its 240Hz refresh rate may be overkill. Mid-tier monitors with a 1440p resolution and 170Hz refresh rate are now standard, and you can find top-notch 27-inch gaming monitors that can hit 240Hz for half the price. Consider the Cooler Master Tempest GP27Q if you don’t need lightning-fast display speeds, as it promises similar specs for just $550. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide if the AGON PRO AG274QZM’s premium price tag is worth the extra frames and added features.

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