The AGON PRO AG274QZM is a fantastic HDR display, let down by a lacklustre factory setup
- Manufacturer: AGON by AOC
- Model: AGON 4 PRO
- SKU: AG274QZM
- Display Type: IPS Gaming Monitor
- Panel Technology: FALD, Mini LED, DisplayHDR 1000, G-Sync/FreeSync
- Size/Resolution: 27” 1440p (QHD)
- Refresh rate: 240 Hz
- Price when reviewed: £999.99 (MSRP)
- Supplied by: AOC
AOC AGON PRO AG274QZM Review
AOC’s AGON 4 PRO range covers a wide variety of displays, from esports-focused high refresh rate panels to stunning HDR showstoppers. The AG274QZM is a rare beast, as it not only has a 27” 240Hz QHD panel, ideal for esports, but it also has DisplayHDR 1000 certification, with a 576-zone FALD (full array local dimming) MiniLED backlight. It used to be that manufacturers saved their premium display tech for 4k displays, so it’s great to see 1440p QHD panels getting some love, too. If your desk is the centre of your entertainment hub and you don’t want or have room for multiple displays, and you prefer the higher frame rates possible at 1440p compared to 2160p, the AG274QZM could meet all of your needs in one neat package.
The star of the show is the high peak brightness, with the AG274QZM peaking at over 1,100 cd/m² in HDR. Brightness is equally impressive in SDR, although the measured brightness falls short of the specified 750 cd/m² – the highest recorded brightness was 668 cd/m² but the picture was far too warm. Using suitable display settings for a balanced picture, 540 cd/m² was the best I could achieve, though this rose to over 600 cd/m² after calibration. You can also activate local dimming for SDR content, which boosts the contrast significantly.
In terms of colour, this is a fantastic display, pumping out a seriously impressive range of hues with exceptional peak saturation. This comes with a caveat, though. I’ve tested a lot of AOC monitors, and they usually come with excellent factory calibration and out-of-the-box settings that need minimal tinkering to reach their best. The AG274QZM, however, is slightly lacking in this regard. Testing all of the default colour-temperature presets, the image visibly contained far too much red. It’s easy to remedy this for SDR content by adjusting the user colour temperature profile, but those settings are greyed out in HDR.
Every panel is different, of course, and this particular monitor could have slipped through the cracks, but I can only review what’s in front of me. Colour temperature issues aside, the HDR performance is brilliant thanks to the MiniLED FALD backlighting. Blacks are inky and retain loads of detail, whilst bright highlights are dazzling and haloing is only minor against the smallest of brightly lit elements. The AG274QZM simply bursts with colour, and it is easily one of the best IPS HDR displays I’ve experienced to date (that crown still goes to the AOC AGON PD32M). It’s just a shame that the colour temperature can’t be adjusted in HDR.
If competitive gaming is your jam, you’ll be very satisfied with the responsiveness of the AG274QZM. As they say, frames win games, and the combination of fast 240 Hz refresh and low input lag make this a superb display for fast-paced titles. Pixel response is very good, averaging <15ms in most scenarios. Combine this with both G-Sync and FreeSync support and you’ve got a very capable display.
This is a difficult one for me. HDR games and movies look incredible, and SDR content looks stunning, too, especially with the SDR local dimming feature turned on. Gaming performance is also outstanding, thanks to the rapid response and useful gaming features. The hefty £999.99 (MSRP) asking price is high, but it isn’t unreasonable for a display of this quality. It’s just a shame the factory setup isn’t better, as you would expect perfection at this price point.
Design and build
The AG274QZM has the same styling you may be familiar with from the rest of the AGON 4 PRO range. Slim bezels, RGB lighting at the rear, an excellent logo projector that fires the AGON logo down onto your desk, and the classic deep-red metallic accents contrast nicely against the matte black finish. You also get an RGB lighting strip under the chin bezel, that casts a lovely glow onto your desk.
The only major deviation from the standard profile of the AGON 4 PRO range is that, because of the FALD mini-LED backlight, the AG274QZM is quite a bit thicker than its siblings. In practical terms, this isn’t a problem at all. Although it’s thicker at the edges, it doesn’t negatively affect the dimensions in any meaningful way compared to the slimmer AGON monitors.
Like much of the AGON PRO range, you get the excellent QuickSwitch, which is a stylish wired remote that allows you to easily control the monitor’s functions and access quick settings like source selection, LightFX control, game modes and the on-screen crosshair.
The chunky tripod stand (which is being made smaller for the upcoming AGON 5 range) is still a sticking point for me with the AGON 4 PRO range. It’s nearly as wide as the panel and stretches out well beyond the back of the monitor. With the stand pushed back as far as it will go, the front of the panel sits just over 28cm from the back of the desk. I have a fairly large desk, but this stand takes up nearly half of the available depth, so make sure your desk can accommodate this display if you decide to purchase one.
Although the stand is large, it’s very stable, and supports the full range of ergonomic adjustment: Height can be adjusted by 120mm, the display can be tilted -3°/+21°, swivelled -20°/+20°, and pivoted either way into portrait orientation. The swivel is slightly more restrictive than some competing displays, but I never found it to be an issue during my testing.
There is no integrated cable management system on the AGON AG274QZM, but AOC includes a pair of 3M-adhesive cable tidies to help keep your setup neat.
Finally, you get a display shroud that slides over the top of the monitor and has a hinged flap for sliding a colourimeter through. If you have light falling on the display from windows or lights around your setup, the shroud is a fantastic addition that effectively minimises indirect glare.
Connectivity and Supported Resolutions
The AOC AGON PRO AG274QZM has an excellent selection of ports. Of particular note is the inclusion of dual HDMI 2.1 ports, which allows you to hit the full refresh rate of 240 Hz from a compatible HDMI 2.1 source. In addition, there is a DisplayPort 1.4 input, three 3.5mm audio jack inputs for microphones, headphones and headsets, a USB-B upstream port to connect your PC to the four-port USB 3.2 hub, and a very welcome USB-C DP-alt mode connection, enabling the use of the handy KVM switch for those with multiple systems and laptops.
The AOC AGON 4 PRO AG274QZM supports the following optimum resolutions:
HDMI 2.1: 2560*1440 @ 240 Hz
DisplayPort: 2560*1440 @ 240 Hz
G-Sync is officially supported, and this display is also FreeSync compatible. The activation window stretches from 48-240 Hz over both DP and HDMI. If you have a gaming console 1440p@120 Hz is available on the Xbox Series consoles, and Sony now supports native 1440p@120 Hz on the PS5, too.
The integrated four-port USB hub is very useful, and as there is a USB-C input, you can use the reliable automatic KVM switching. The hub includes a yellow fast-charge port, and all of the ports support USB 3.2, however, when using HDR or a USB-C connection these are restricted to USB 2.0.
DisplayPort, HDMI, USB-C to USB-A/C, and USB-B to A cables are included. To power the display there is a very, very large power brick, but the cable has sufficient length to reach from your desk to the floor.
27” 1440p monitors are, for many modern competitive gamers, the displays of choice, especially now that GPUs are able to feed 240 Hz panels like the one in the AG274QZM. We are seeing more all-rounders now such as the AGON PRO AG274QG, that pair rapid response and high frame rates with superior picture quality, but the AG274QZM goes one further, adding outstanding HDR performance, too.
Out of the box, the native colour setup could be much better. There was also a slight but visible difference between the default and calibrated image. Gamma presets were either slightly above or below the ideal 2.2 curve and, although the white point technically measured up at a perfectly acceptable 6800K using the Normal colour temperature preset, the display visibly has far too much red present.
This is true of all of the SDR and HDR presets. On the panel I received, changing the user colour profile (Red-37, Green-49, Blue-50) brought these colours very close to the desired point, but as I mentioned earlier, you can’t adjust this in HDR, so you’re stuck with an excessively warm HDR image containing too much red.
The panel response of the AG274QZM is excellent. In my testing, setting the overdrive to Weak garnered the best results, effectively eliminating motion blur. Responsiveness is very slightly improved with the Medium preset, but this introduces slight overshoot, whilst the Strong overdrive setting further increases overshoot and introduces some mild inverse ghosting, though not to the levels of some other panels we’ve tested.
The grey-to-grey response is desirably fast, especially for a display that focuses on image quality as much as it does performance, with average transitions under 15ms. This translates well to gaming; It won’t magically make you better at games, but in a competitive environment where every millisecond counts, you have to take every advantage you can get.
Both G-Sync and FreeSync are supported, eliminating tearing and stuttering during both console and PC gaming. All in all, I was very pleasantly surprised at the proficiency of the AG274QZM when it came to high-refresh gaming.
Brightness, contrast and colour
The AG274QZM is capable of coming fairly close to its specified 750 cd/m2 peak brightness, but only when the R, G and B user-colour settings are at 50, where it peaked at 668 cd/m2 but with a colour temperature of 5300K. The closest preset to the optimal 6500K was the Normal setting (6700-6800K), but this lowered peak brightness to 540 cd/m2. That’s still an impressive figure, of course, but falls short of what I expected.
Black levels were well managed, especially considering the brightness of the display, and they were even better with SDR local dimming enabled. Unlike in HDR, local dimming doesn’t entirely darken the backlight, but it does reduce it enough to positively impact the contrast ratio. Non-dimmed contrast was in line with the specified 1000:1 ratio, whilst dimmed contrast reached as much as 1510:1 at max brightness, which is excellent for an IPS display. Some minor light bleed is present, but it’s well managed, especially when local dimming is switched on, and it negates much of the greying and washing out of predominantly dark images that is commonly attributed to IPS panels.
The out-of-the-box colour calibration is good, with an average DeltaE of 1.57 (colour accuracy)
This isn’t noticeable to the naked eye, but it’s not quite as good as other AGON monitors we’ve reviewed. The AG274QZM responded slightly better to calibration, reducing the average DeltaE to 0.37. I could see a clear difference when flicking between calibrated and uncalibrated profiles, but this was mainly due to it correcting the gamma curve.
The default gamma setting (Gamma 1) was closest to the ideal 2.2 gamma curve, sitting slightly below it, however, this was still a clearly visible deviation when compared with the calibrated profile.
Gamut coverage and HDR
Colour saturation and gamut coverage are excellent. The AG274QZM provides rich and vivid colour without oversaturation. The panel in the AGON AG274QZM has true 10bit colour depth, allowing it to display up to 1.07 billion colours.
Gamut coverage* is excellent:
- sRGB: 100% coverage – 151.7% volume
- AdobeRGB: 89% coverage – 104.5% volume
- DCI-P3: 95% coverage – 107.5% volume
*Coverage is how much of the gamut is covered, whilst volume includes any colour that extends beyond the defined gamut.
HDR performance is very good, especially with the FALD MiniLED backlight. Good DCI-P3 coverage allows for some stunning colour, and in HDR the AG274QZM can reach brief peaks of over 1,100 cd/m2. For larger swathes of light, it more consistently averages around 750 cd/m2, which is more than enough to properly appreciate HDR content, especially with the deep blacks created by the dimmed backlight.
Viewing angles and uniformity
Brightness and contrast uniformity is very good, with the AG274QZM recording consistent results all across the display. The brightness uniformity, in particular, was excellent – the largest deviation was just 5.5% (34 cd/m2) but the average was below 2% across the majority of the screen. Contrast was also very consistent – a peak of 6.3% was recorded across the rightmost fifth of the display, but this lowered towards the centre and deviation remained below 2% left of the centre. This is all but imperceptible to the naked eye and a superb result for the AG274QZM.
Colour accuracy was less consistent around the display, but if it hadn’t been for the measurement report I likely wouldn’t have noticed, as colours remained vibrant across the display. If you’re doing colour critical editing work this may be of concern, but for gaming and movies, it’s perfectly acceptable.
Of special note is the superb perceived off-angle viewing performance. Brightness, contrast and vibrancy was retained almost perfectly to my eye, even at the most extreme of angles. IPS displays usually excel at this anyway, but the AG274QZM performed better than most.
AOC puts decent enough speakers in its monitors, and those in the AG274QZM are fine for light usage. Peak volume is reasonably loud, but although it doesn’t severely distort, it does become muddied and sound a bit raspy at full volume. The speakers could do with more low end, as they lack warmth, but the mids and highs are clean. I’ll give them a passing grade, but as always, there’s no comparison compared to a modestly priced set of desktop speakers or a good headset.
The AOC AGON AG274QZM is a fantastic monitor that’s only let down by a poor factory colour setup. HDR performance is excellent, bolstered by the MiniLED full-array dimming, producing wonderfully vibrant colour and retina-scorching peaks. SDR picture quality is also very pleasing, with SDR local dimming improving contrast beyond that of regular IPS displays.
Gaming capabilities are also top-notch, with speedy response and a suite of useful gaming features like G-Sync, FreeSync, low input lag and more. Throw in the quality of life features including the QuickSwitch remote, USB hub and comprehensive connection options and you’ve got a fantastic gaming display.
I’ve mentioned several times that the overabundance of red impacts the enjoyment of HDR content. If you’re playing on a console there’s no way to avoid this, and for PC you’ll need some way to create a colour profile. However, in my experience with AOC monitors, they are usually exemplary, so don’t let this put you off getting one. it’s more than likely that other AG274QZM monitors will be fine, but if you receive one that has way too much red (or any other colour), don’t be afraid to return it and try another one.