MSI MAG272CQR 27″ Gaming Monitor Review

Gaming hardware is becoming cheaper all the time, and most people now a days who call themselves a typical PC gamer, are going to have a moderately specced out PC. That’s why MSI have released their new MAG272CQR which is part of their Optix range which features a 2560 X 1440 display, a 1500R curviture and 1ms MRPT. MSI asked if we wanted to take a look at one and we jumped at the chance. Sometimes it feels like us mid-range gamers are lost in the noise of top-spec hardware and prices for that matter, but not anymore.

The MSI MAG272CQR monitor’s aesthetic is very understated. It’s plain black, with skinny side and top bezels, the bottom is a little fatter and branded with the MSI logo. On the left side you can find a headphone peg to store your gaming headset, and low and behold, there’s a joystick for navigating your menus on the bottom right rear, and if you’ve watched any of my monitor reviews, you’ll know I’m a fan of joystick control on monitors.

On the back is a subtle but tasteful RGB strip, which unfortunately doesn’t shine against a back wall, which feels a little pointless to me, and furthermore, it can be synced to what’s happening on-screen. But it can’t be seen. Strange that MSI would include it in the first place. It needs the MSI Mystic Light app to sync up all of your LEDs in your machine. As I’ve already got a Corsair iCue software, I didn’t install this out of fears of clashing.

While we’re round the back, we may as well talk about the ports. You can find one single DisplayPort 1.2a, two HDMI 2.0b. There’s also three USB ports – two USB 2.0 and a single Type-B to connect to your desktop to activate the 2.0 USB ports. There’s also a 3.5mm aux out for headphones.

As with their other MAG monitors, the MSI MAG272CQR retains its 1500R curve. However, being 27-inches, I feel that a curved screen at this size is a little pointless, as there isn’t enough width on the left and right to sit in your peripheral vision like there is with a 32-inch ultra-wide form factor or higher. I would have personally preferred a standard panel.

The monitor has a tilt adjustment between -5° ~ 20° and a height adjustment of 0 ~ 130mm. However, why MSI haven’t included a swivel is beyond me. But I suppose most people looking for a gaming monitor are going to be sitting in front of the screen anyway, so is it really needed? Probably not. The monitor sits on a chunky stand which feels very well built, and very ridged. It’s held in place by two screws on the back rather than the more standard clip you find on other monitors today. The pedistal stand has a cable hole to route your cables down the rear, keeping things looking neat. And the legs themselves take up very little real estate on your desk.

But let’s move onto the important part – the screen. The MSI MAG272CQR has a 27-inch VA panel with a resolution of 2560 X 1440p, a refresh rate of 166Hz which is just above the common 144Hz you see on gaming monitors. MSI are also promising a 1ms MPRT and a 3000 : 1 contrast ratio, and also Freesync technology which falls between a range of 48 to 165Hz. And finally, a 178-degree viewing angle which is pretty standard with VA panels now.

One thing I will mention is that HDR is pretty non-existant here, thanks to the 8-bit colour depth and 300 nits max brightness. HDR needs a minimum of 400 nits of brightness to achieve that HDR ready badge, but even at 400 nits, HDR isn’t good.

Running our MSI MAG272CQR through our Datacolour Spyder X showed some interesting results. While MSI claim that colour contrast comes in at 3000:1, in reality, this was closer to 2000:1. While colour accuracy after a calibration showed us a Delta-E average score of 1.06, which is significantly better than what we were given out of the box, which is odd. There was a huge noticable difference. The image uncalibrated had a purple hue to it, while after calibration, this was significantly reduced by adding a green tone. There are settings inside the menu for individual RGB sliders to attempt to reduce this though under the custom colour temperature preset if you don’t have access to colour calibration tools. Colour Uniformity for a 100% brightness was also exceptional and finally, the monitor will cover 100% of the sRGB gamut, but falls short of under 90% on AdobeRGB and a 90% DCI-P3 colour gamuts. Running the calibration also destroyed the brightness of the monitor image, but that’s what it needed to doto get a more natural colour. All settings can be seen in the gallery below.

But all this is well and good, but what about gaming performance? Well actually, colour me impressed. The MSI MAG272CQR performed very well, and I only really had an issue with some ghosting effects that appeared – because afterall, it is a VA panel – and the fact that shadowy areas and dark locations in games lost a lot of detail. There’s no black stabiliser option here either like we’ve seen on something like the AOC 24G2 monitor reviewed a little while ago which brings out detail in dark areas.

Running the UFO Ghosting test I saw a significant amount of ghosting, especially as the colours got darker on the test. Inside the gaming section of the menu, there is a response time setting, which I set to fastest, which helped somewhat, but didn’t eliminate the ghosting completely. The image enhancement option too is there to sharpen edges, but did little to improve the ghosting of the monitor.

The MSI MAG272CQR I felt performed extremely well while gaming, although I’m not quite sure the FPS counter built into the monitor was giving me an accurate reading. During Heroes of the Storm, the FPS counter showed me locked at 165 frames, which okay, is something to be expected with my PC spec. It’s not the hardest game to run graphically. However, when I used the onboard counter with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, it showed a locked FPS of 100.

Using the FPS counter built into Steam showed that Odyssey was running at around 80 FPS. Not sure why the difference here, so I ended up turning off MSI’s FPS counter. Still, Freesync worked nicely here, and I noticed no screen tearing while zipping around the rooftops of Greece in Odyssey, or even when dodging incoming attacks in Doom where I was pulling in around 140 FPS quite nicely. Colours also popped while playing games and everything felt nice and bright and vibrant, especially if bright lighting was coming from usually dark areas.

Although you’re not getting a 4K experience here, it’s nice to have a resolution drop to 2K and take advantage of the extra FPS you can generally pull, especially if you’ve got mid-range hardware. Oh, and my PS4 looked pretty decent through the MSI MAG272CQR. My game of choice right now being Call of Duty Modern Warfare, looked nice and sharp. And even though it’s on a PS4, there was no noticable ghosting or even tearing.

Ther MSI MAG272CQR gaming monitor would make a great addtion to a gaming setup. It’s got some very nice colour accuracy, even though it did need a calibration to get there, and having 165Hz on a sub $400 monitor is also a huge achievement. Gaming looked nice and smooth too, and thanks to a little bit of Image Enhacement, looks nice a sharp. For more information on the MSI MAG272CQR, head over to the MSI website.

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