MSI Optix MAG271CQR
Gaming Monitor (27”)
In terms of PC gaming the QHD resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels, or 1440p, is still considered by many to be the sweet spot. Namely due to the greater performance requirement placed on competitive digital game worlds when it comes to the good old desktop computer. Where 30 frames-per-second or even 60 frames-per-second might cut it in the world of consoles connected to a fancy 4K television, hitting triple digits or getting close to the fabled 144 Hz refresh rate can often become the goal in the PC space. Hitting these sorts of targets with details dialled up at 4K is incredibly taxing on underlying hardware, which brings us right back to QHD or 1440p being the sweet spot.
The new MSI Optix MAG271CQR not only provides an impressive 144 Hz VA panel (from Samsung) with full FreeSync support for a variable refresh rate, but it does so with an impressively designed curved screen capable of excellent colours and deep blacks. In our testing across multiple GPUs, including both the NVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti and the NVIDIA RTX 2060 – it was hard not to be impressed by MSI’s offering here. Specifications-wise it hits all the right marks, with image quality perfect for long gaming sessions. And best of all, the affordable price instantly had us thinking that sitting two of these side by side would make for a brilliant dual-monitor setup.
Heading into the review we were a little sceptical about a curved 27-inch screen, a feature (using the industry-wide and accepted 1800R curve rating) that we often associate with larger UltraWide 21:9 displays or screens in the 32-inch range. For those wondering about curved displays, in terms of PC use they’re brilliant in upping the immersion and amplifying edge and peripheral detail. In the world of televisions where typically you’re not sitting front and centre – the idea of a curved display is more of a gimmick. Which is a roundabout way of saying that in no time at all we got used to the 1800R-rated curve of the MAG271CQR – and loved its overall implementation.
In addition to the curve the rest of the design is sleek and modern with a near edge-to-edge display that exceeds the price-point in terms of overall visual presentation. Affordable and durable in design, MSI has also seen fit to include RGB lighting on the backside that it calls Mystic Light. Although adjustment is only available via software, the visual flourish never quite lives up to its name due to being mostly subtle and only bright enough to be visible in an almost completely light-free environment. One last design feature worth mentioning, although throwaway in terms of necessity, is the retractable headset hanger. Which we used, mainly because it was there.
Maximum Resolution: 2560 x 1440
Panel Type: VA
Refresh Rate: 144Hz AMD FreeSync
Response Time: 1ms
Contrast Ratio: 3000:1 (Native)
Brightness: 300 nits
Weight: 5.6 kg
In the eternal war that is IPS versus VA the benefits of one versus the other usually come down to IPS panels offering crisper pixel clarity and more vibrant colour, with VA panels offering noticeably better contrast and ‘blacks’ in addition to an overall softer image better suited to media. Including games. This is not to say that the QHD resolution of the MAG271CQR is soft or lacks colour – the opposite is true here. From the 100% sRGB colour depth to the contrast ratio that impressed across a wide range of titles like Resident Evil 2, Battlefield V, and Metro Exodus – this is a stellar effort from MSI that features only minimal backlight bleeding in a mostly stutter-free presentation.
Also, the VA glow-effect which can give objects on-screen a visible halo, was manageable here – with excellent calibration options and presets suitable to several varying games and activities. Although only five display modes are switchable out-of-the-box – including standard, movie, FPS, RTS and Eyesaver – adjusting the standard mode offers the best option for non-gaming related stuff like, say, writing a review.
A View to Remember
As a FreeSync display (that we managed to get G-Sync working with) no doubt this kept the costs down versus going with NVIDIA’s dedicated hardware to support a variable refresh-rate. Coupled with the very low 1ms response time, the MAG271CQR is very much the ideal display for those who dabble in the more competitive side – across the likes of Rainbow Six Siege, Fortnite, and Overwatch. When paired with titles like these and a modern GPU it’s not all that difficult to hit triple digit frame-rates to put the display through its paces. And when paired with an RTX card we didn’t notice any sort of ghosting or other anomalies.
The only thing missing here is HDR support and FreeSync 2. But then again to hit that sort of brightness no doubt the overall price of the monitor would see a substantial boost. In the end MSI went in the direction of a feature-packed and affordable monitor ideal for gaming and succeeded almost effortlessly. Sure it could be a tad brighter or take the colour output to the next level but that’s not really the overall, well, MSI Optix MAG271CQR picture. With a sleek and modern curved design, additional USB inputs and little flourishes like RGB backlighting, plus a 144 Hz refresh rate and an impressive 100% sRGB rated VA panel – if you’re in the market for a new 1440p display, then perhaps you needn’t look any further than this.