Monoprice Dark Matter (44632) 27-inch review: A great budget gaming monitor with 165Hz and 2ms

Save your wallet and still get 165Hz and 2ms response time from a gaming monitor.

Monoprice Dark Matter 27-inch gaming monitor hero
(Image: © Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)

Windows Central Verdict

As far as budget gaming monitors go, the Monoprice Dark Matter (44632) 27-inch is a fantastic option that provides up to a 165Hz refresh rate and a fast 2ms response time. The stand isn't the sturdiest thing, but it holds the display up to a good height, and the monitor's design looks good for any room. A crisp resolution and decent color gamut help games look really good, but it's hard to make out darker scenes on this IPS panel. Still, if you're on a budget but still want a great gaming monitor then this is a fantastic option.

Pros

  • +

    Attractive and simple design

  • +

    Easy assembly

  • +

    Reaches 165Hz refresh rate and 2ms response time

  • +

    Less expensive than many others

Cons

  • -

    Darker scenes are very hard to see

  • -

    Wobbly stand

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In order to get the most out of your PC gaming sessions, it helps to not only have a powerful gaming laptop or gaming desktop, but also to have a gaming monitor that can keep up with all of the signals being sent to it. The very best gaming monitors provide fast response times and high refresh rates along with a slew of other features like VRR support. It is also important for them to offer great picture quality and provide enough ports to accommodate your various usage needs. The thing is, the more features a gaming monitor has, the more expensive it tends to be. 

For those of us watching our wallets, getting a great gaming monitor can be a complication. But thankfully, there are plenty of budget gaming monitors out there to choose from, like those offered by Monoprice. I spent the last week testing out the Monoprice Dark Matter (44632) — a 27-inch, IPS display that can handle a high 165Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time. It's not perfect, but it is a fantastic option to choose from. 

Disclaimer: This review was made possible thanks to a review unit provided by Monoprice. The company did not see the contents of this review before publishing.

Monoprice Dark Matter 27-inch: Price and specs

The Monoprice Dark Matter has a very simple design that looks good in any room.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)

Pricing & specifications highlights

  • The Dark Matter 27-inch IPS Gaming Monitor has an MSRP of 199.99, but can often be found on sale. 
  • It sells at a lower cost than many other 165Hz, 2ms gaming monitors of this screen size. 
  • You can purchase it from the Monoprice website.
  • Value rating: 5/5
Monoprice Dark Matter 27-inch

Price: $199.99 ($159.99 on sale)
Display size: 27-inches
Resolution:
2560x1440p
Type:
IPS
Refresh rate:
165Hz
Response time:
2ms (OD)
VESA mount compatible: Yes
Brightness: 300 nits
Speaker: Yes, 1x 2W
Camera: No
Ports:
 2x HDMI 2.0, 2x DisplayPort 1.4, 1x Audio out

The Monoprice Dark Matter 27-inch IPS Gaming Monitor can be purchased from the Monoprice website and has an MSRP of $199.99. However, it can often be found on sale, and at the time of writing this is selling at a discounted $159.99 price point.  

Typically, IPS gaming monitors of this size that include a decent QHD resolution with a high refresh rate and response time tend to sell for around $400 or higher. So, having a starting price of half, that really makes this a good budget buy. This low cost is also surprising given that the Dark Matter has a 2W speaker, whereas most gaming laptops do not come with speakers. What's more, there are two HDMI 2.0 ports and a DisplayPort 1.4 to help connect whatever desktops, laptops, or other devices you might want to the display. So, it offers a good range of features for the price. 

My recommended Monoprice Dark Matter 27-inch configuration

27-inch | IPS |QHD | 165Hz | 2ms (OD) 

<a href="https://www.anrdoezrs.net/click-100624765-15785593?sid=hawk-custom-tracking&url=https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=44632" data-link-merchant="monoprice.com"">27-inch | IPS |QHD | 165Hz | 2ms (OD) 

There are a few different Monoprice Dark Matter gaming monitors to choose from, but the 27-inch IPS display I reviewed is the most budget-friendly. It has an MSRP of $199.99, but can often be found on sale for less. You can buy it directly from Monoprice.

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Monoprice Dark Matter 27-inch: Setup and design quality

There are five buttons on the bottom right side of the monitor. (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)

Build quality & design highlights

  • A minimalist casing and small bezel really make the screen stand out. This monitor can look good in any setting. 
  • You can adjust the monitor by tilting it forward or backward. 
  • The t-shaped base isn't the sturdiest, but there shouldn't be a huge problem unless you put weight on the monitor. 
  • Design rating: 4/5
More monitors

While not the sleekest gaming monitor I've ever seen, the Monoprice Dark Matter 27-inch has a beautiful design overall that can look good in any room, whether that be a professional office or a gaming den. This is helped by the fact that the bezel around the screen is relatively small and doesn't take away from the panel itself. 

This monitor does require some assembly after opening the box, but the process was incredibly simple. All of the tools needed were supplied, and it only took me about five minutes to get everything put together. To start, you need to attach the stand to the back of the monitor by securing two screws with the included screwdriver tool. After that, it's just a matter of uniting the t-shaped base with the stand via one large screw. Then you're all ready to start plugging in cables before turning the monitor on. 

This definitely isn't the most stable gaming monitor base with its t-shaped design, and that partially has to do with how tightly you screw the base and stand together. That being the case, the monitor can wobble a bit. However, when assembled, the monitor is decently balanced and shouldn't fall back on either side unless a decent amount of pressure is intentionally exerted on the display. 

Whenever I need to adjust the monitor, I can tilt it up or down, but the stand does not adjust in height and the screen cannot be pivoted to the sides or rotated. Thanks to the rubber nubs on the bottom of the base, the display won't slide around when adjusted. Just be aware that there is no cable tidy hole, so wires are very visible dropping down from the backside of the Dark Matter in various places. 

There are two HDMI 2.0 ports and a DisplayPort 1.4.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)

Speaking of cables, the Dark Matter comes with a DisplayPort cable, but doesn't come with any HDMI cables. Additionally, it has two HDMI 2.0 ports as well as a DisplayPort 1.4 and a 3.5mm headphone jack to take care of your connection needs. There are no USB-A or USB-C ports of any kind, but this isn't surprising given the low price of the monitor. Typically, the more connections and features a display has, the more it costs.

There are five buttons on the bottom right side of the gaming monitor, which aren't visible when sitting right in front of the screen. This minimalist look once more helps maintain the simple design that makes the monitor look so good. Despite being out of sight, these buttons are easily reachable and can be used to power the display on and off, toggle crosshairs, or adjust other OSD settings like brightness, contrast, VRR, response time, and more. 

While not the thinnest monitor out there, the Dark Matter is decently slim.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)

Viewed from the side, the Dark Matter isn't the slimmest gaming monitor I've ever seen, but it also isn't very thick. The big thing will just be to make sure you have enough space for the stand and base to do their thing. Overall, this is a very nice-looking gaming monitor with plenty of ports and conveniences for the low price that it comes at. It will look at home in any office, gaming space, or room. 

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Monoprice Dark Matter 27-inch: Picture quality

It was hard to see some details in darker scenes while playing games like Hogwarts Legacy. My camera picked up more detail than I could see in real life. (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)

Display highlights

  • The large 27-inch IPS display makes it easier to see more of your gaming worlds in one go. 
  • It produces a decent color gamut, but isn't anything to get excited over. 
  • Darker scenes in video games can be harder to make out, with details getting muddled and lost. 
  • Display rating: 3.5/5

To really see what kind of viewing experience the Dark Matter provides, I spent hours playing different PC games including Hogwarts Legacy, Cyberpunk 2077, and Baldur's Gate 3 while the monitor was connected to a powerful Lenovo Legion 9i (Gen 8) gaming laptop. 

As you'd expect from a gaming monitor that can reach up to 165Hz refresh rate and supply a speedy 2ms (OD) response time, gaming sessions played relatively smoothly. The picture quality got even better after toggling VRR on from the OSD, unsurprisingly.

Thanks to the QHD (2560x1440p) resolution of the screen and the ability to adjust sharpness via the OSD, this monitor does an excellent job of bringing imagery through crisply and with a decent color gamut. I ran several SpyderX colorimeter tests in the Dark Matter's various modes, and it always produced 99% of sRGB, 79% of AdobeRGB, and 84% of P3. These are far from the best results, but they are still respectable. At any rate, it shows that while not the most vibrantly colorful gaming monitor out there, it is good in that area overall. 

In SpyderX color gamut test, the Monoprice Dark Matter produced 99% of sRGB, 79% of AdobeRGB, 84% of P3.  (Image credit: Windows Central)
Swipe to scroll horizontally
SettingBrightnessBlackContrastWhite Point
0%40.80.07570 : 16800
25%109.50.19570 : 16800
50%157.60.26600 : 16900
75%192.90.33580 : 16900
100%227.80.38600 : 16900

The one big negative thing I noticed about the Dark Matter gaming monitor is that this IPS screen doesn't really do a great job of showing darker scenes — game details easily get lost on the display and cannot be alleviated even if I adjust brightness and contrast to their extremes. I included pictures of the Dark Matter displaying darker scenes, but it should be noted that my camera was able to pick up more detail than I was actually able to see in real life. This difficulty of making out details in darker scenes is partially due to the fact that the Dark Matter can only reach 300 nits of brightness.

Since dark scenes are very prevalent in many of the best PC games (especially newer ones), I spent time trying to adjust settings to try and make darker game visuals easier to make out. This included testing out the Dark Matter's eight different modes (Standard, FPS Game, RTS Game, MOBA Game, Movie, Web, Text, and Mono) as well as changing various color options. Still, after spending a long time changing settings, I still didn't reach the viewing experience I wanted.

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Monoprice Dark Matter 27-inch: Speaker

It was likewise hard to see details in darker scenes while playing Cyberpunk 2077. (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)

Display highlights

  • Most gaming monitors do not come with speakers, so it's surprising that this one has one at all. 
  • There is only one 2W speaker, and it doesn't get very loud. 
  • You'll want to invest in a good gaming headset or a set of computer speakers to get the most out of your game audio.
  • Display rating: 4/5

I've tested a number of gaming monitors, and typically they focus so much on the visual aspect of things that they often don't include speakers at all. So, I was surprised to find that the Dark Matter has a 2W speaker built into it. This speaker is decently clear, but it cannot get very loud at all. 

So, as is usually the case with most gaming PC setups, you'll want to use one of the best gaming headsets or best computer speakers if you want to get the most out of your game audio. 

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Monoprice Dark Matter 27-inch: The competition

The Redmagic 4K Gaming Monitor has a mini-LED panel with a fantastic balance of brightness, color, and contrast. (Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Windows Central)

If you're looking at a Monoprice gaming monitor, then one of your biggest criteria is probably finding something within a budget. If that's you, then you should check out our list of the best budget gaming monitors. That being said, you'll find displays with much better picture quality and features if you're willing to pay a little more. 

For instance, as you can see from our Redmagic 4K Gaming Monitor review, our own Harish Jonnalagadda discusses how this mini-LED panel produces a great balance of color vibrancy, brightness, and contrast for your gaming sessions. It offers 4K resolution up to a 160Hz refresh rate, and a fast 1ms response time. You can purchase it at Redmagic's website, where it has an MSRP of $869.00, but can sometimes be found on sale for less. 

If you're willing to go all out for a gaming monitor, then I highly recommend getting an OLED one. (You can read more about different display types in my OLED vs QLED vs AMOLED vs Mini LED comparison). OLEDs are more expensive than other gaming monitor options, but they are also excellent at producing detailed and vibrant visuals, even in darker scenes. Plus, they tend to have fast response times and high refresh rates. 

As you can read about in own Zachary Boddy's Alienware 34 Curved QD-OLED review, this is one of the very best OLED gaming monitors on the market right now. It's got a 34-inch curved screen, supports up to 165Hz refresh rate, and has a super speedy 0.1ms response time to provide you with the latest visuals in your games. It is somewhat expensive, though, with an MSRP of $799.99, and can be purchased from Dell or Amazon. 

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Monoprice Dark Matter 27-inch: Scorecard

Swipe to scroll horizontally
AttributeNotes
Value5/5 — Most other gaming monitors of this type and size that offer this high of a refresh rate and this fast of a response time cost a whole lot more.
Design4/5 — While not the sturdiest base in the world, the monitor is easy to assemble and looks good in any room.
Display3.5/5 — It has a decent color gamut, but doesn't display darker scenes all that well. Some details can easily get lost.
Speaker4/5 — Gaming monitors often don't have speakers so the inclusion of this one is good. However, it really doesn't get all that loud.
Total score4/5 — Considering everything that this gaming monitor offers, it's a great budget option that can do the job. However, there are much better options out there if you're willing to pay more.

Monoprice Dark Matter 27-inch: Should you buy?

The Monoprice Dark Matter is a decent gaming monitor for the low price.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)

You should buy this if ...

You want a gaming monitor with a fast response time and high refresh rate that doesn't cost too much

Many gaming monitors with of this size that offer a 165Hz refresh rate and a 2ms response time cost a whole lot more, so the $199.99 MSRP of the Monoprice Dark Matter is really good. 

You're looking for something that's easy to assemble

While it does require tools to assemble the Monoprice Dark Matter, the process is very easy. Plus, the screws and screwdriver are included, so you don't have to supply anything yourself. It only takes a few minutes to get everything set up. 

You want a gaming monitor with an attractive design that will look good in any room

While not the sleekest or flashiest gaming monitor out there, the Dark Matter does look good with its simple design. It will look right at home in a gaming den, office, or any other room. 

You should not buy this if ...

You're looking for a monitor with a built-in webcam 

To be fair, most gaming monitors do not have a built-in webcam, but there are some out there. Honestly, if you're specifically wanting to stream your games, then you'll want to invest in one of the <a href="https://www.windowscentral.com/best-webcam-windows" data-link-merchant="windowscentral.com"">best PC webcams. 

You want a gaming monitor that makes it easier to see darker video game scenes

Due to the contrast and brightness of the IPS screen, the Dark Matter doesn't do the best job displaying darker imagery. Because of this, details can easily get lost when playing your games. 

You want a monitor with an adjustable stand

While the Dark Matter monitor can be tilted forward or backward, it cannot be adjusted up and down, side to side, or rotated. If adjusting your gaming monitor stand is important for you, then you might need to find another option. 

Considering the high refresh rate, fast response time, inclusion of VRR, and other helpful features that it offers, the Dark Matter IPS Gaming Monitor is an excellent budget buy. The design is attractive and looks good in any room, and there are a decent number of ports to help you connect other devices to it. 

However, it's also worth noting that the t-shaped stand can be somewhat wobbly and isn't the sturdiest gaming monitor base out there. Additionally, while the IPS display produces a good color gamut and crisp resolution, it is harder to make out details when darker scenes and imagery are on screen. Still, if you want something that will serve you well and cost you less, this is a great option. 

Rebecca Spear
Editor and Reviewer

Self-professed gaming geek, Rebecca Spear, is one of Windows Central's editors and reviewers with a focus on gaming handhelds, PC gaming, and laptops. When she isn't checking out the latest games on Xbox Game Pass, PC, ROG Ally, or Steam Deck; she can be found digital drawing with a Wacom tablet. She's written thousands of articles with everything from editorials, reviews, previews, features, previews, and hardware reviews over the last few years. If you need information about anything gaming-related, her articles can help you out. She also loves testing game accessories and any new tech on the market. You can follow her @rrspear on X (formerly Twitter).