AOC AGON AG273QCX review: Stunning AMD FreeSync 2 gaming, with curves
AOC's new AGON 3 display incorporates FreeSync 2 and HDR10 support.
AOC has a history of releasing solid displays that offer excellent visuals and performance for PC gamers. Catering to both AMD and NVIDIA, the company released new Agon 3 displays that include more advanced features, curved panels, and that are billed to offer exceptional gaming experiences.
So just how good is the AG273QCX for AMD GPU owners?
Costs $500Bottom line: The perfect upgrade for your non-gaming PC display.
- FreeSync 2.
- 144Hz refresh rate.
- Solid design.
- HDR isn't perfect.
- RGB lighting is weak.
You'll love how this monitor looks
AOC displays are understated in terms of design, but that's mostly viewed as a positive. I don't enjoy the more aggressive-looking monitors with multiple accents and shapes that can be viewed from the front. Thankfully, AOC made the AG273QCX look smart and clean.
Unlike other AOC Agon displays, this panel is curved. This allows the display to wrap around your head slightly, better matching your peripheral vision compared against a traditional flat display. There's the familiar headset holder on the side and AOC's red and silver design language is seen throughout. It's a smart looking display.
Are curved displays better for your eyes and offer enhanced visual experiences? Some people swear by them while others see the whole thing as marketing gimmick much like 3D TVs. How a curved display will work for you depends entirely on your personal preference. It's best to try one out in a store.
|Resolution||2560 x 1440 (QHD)|
|Refresh rate||144 Hz|
|Response time||1 ms|
|Ports||2x DisplayPort 1.4|
2x HDMI 2.0
4x USB 3.0
1x Mini-USB (fast-charging)
With FreeSync 2 you're getting high dynamic range (HDR) support, which is offered by this display. What you're not getting is the best HDR support, with a maximum brightness output of around 400 nits. But you're not paying $1,000 or more for this monitor, and as such, it has only been certified for VESA DisplayHDR 400.
The on-screen controls have been improved, too. It's much easier to navigate through available settings, make some changes and get back to the game in a few seconds. The menu layout has been altered for the better, so you're no longer going through nine different sub-menus to change the brightness level.
Everything is controlled using a small joystick underneath the monitor, which also serves as the on and off switch. You'll want to play around with the settings a little as the monitor (like other AOC displays) isn't calibrated too well. You could enhance games quickly by switching to "gamma 2" using the OSD and making sure the low blue light setting is toggled off.
Content looks great on the AGON AG273QCX, whether you're browsing some websites or smashing skulls in Dark Souls. After calibrating the monitor, I was able to enjoy some popping colors and great accuracy. The performance of the monitor is also admirable, allowing you to lock the refresh rate at 144Hz.
Viewing angles aren't bad, and I experienced no issues with light bleed or on-screen artifacts. The low response time and excellent support for gaming also make sure you'll notice very little in terms of lag in-game. If you're gaming, this display was made for you.
I have to mention AOC's refreshed packaging, which makes it easier to take the display out without causing unnecessary damage. There's an AGON box that contains manuals and other handy accessories instead of the usual plastic bags, making it feel more expensive. AOC bundles two cable-management sticky pad clips to help with keeping the rear of the monitor somewhat tidy.
Things you may not like about this display
The monitor is bright and can be configured to be at the maximum output of 400 nits, but this isn't an impressive figure for HDR displays. It's of striking quality, but don't expect to be blown away by HDR content on this panel. It's designed more like a gaming display.
The RGB lighting isn't great, and I would have preferred the display not have any at all. The refresh rate of the lighting is rather low and you can clearly see the pattern slowly making its way around the circle on the back if you select the gradient effect. The options available just aren't that great, either.
The lighting brings nothing to the experience, and you'd be better off setting a specific color or just turning it off altogether. It's a shame since more manufacturers are now looking at ambient lighting, using in-game and on-screen content for showcasing color around the display. It's not a deal breaker, however.
At the time of writing, there's no support for NVIDIA GPUs. This display is new, so it could take the company some time to certify it, but if I were a betting individual I'd say the odds are looking pretty good for GTX and RTX owners who may be eyeing up this display — but hold off until official support is announced, just in case.
Should you buy this gaming monitor?
If you're still using a 1080p display, own an AMD GPU and are looking for an upgrade to 1440p, you should consider the AGON AG273QCX. It has all the features you'll need for butter-smooth gaming, it isn't too badly calibrated out-the-box, and it comes with FreeSync 2 and HDR support, though the latter isn't particularly noteworthy.
Still, for $500 it's a great deal.
The perfect upgrade for your non-gaming PC display.
AOC's latest Agon 3 display with AMD FreeSync 2 support and HDR makes for a compelling gaming experience, especially if you're a proud owner of a Radeon GPU-powered PC.
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Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.