With so many 27-inch gaming monitors crowding the market, prices are on a downward trend. IPS panels were once only found in the premium category, and a 27-inch would have cost at least $500 and run at 60Hz. Now gaming screens with high refresh rates, Adaptive-Sync and rich colors are commonplace. However, the latter comes with a caveat. FHD resolution screens don’t often have a wide color gamut.
The Monoprice Dark Matter 27 42771 is the exception. It is a FHD/IPS panel with 165 Hz, Adaptive-Sync and a wide range. Very wide in fact with over 90% of DCI-P3 wide to be exact. It’s also one of the least expensive 27-inch gaming monitors we’ve seen, but has some of the capabilities found in the best gaming monitors. Let’s see.
Monoprice Dark Matter 27 42771 Specifications:
|Panel Type / Backlight||IPS/W LED, edge array|
|Screen size/aspect ratio||27 inches / 16:9|
|Maximum resolution and refresh rate||1920×1080 @ 165Hz|
|FreeSync: 48-165 Hz|
|Compatible with G-Sync|
|Original color depth and gamma||8-bit / DCI-P3|
|Response time (GTG)||6ms|
|Video Inputs||1x DisplayPort 1.2″|
|2x HDMI 1.4|
|audio||3.5mm headphone output|
|Energy consumption||21.3w, brightness @ 200 nits|
|Panel dimensions WxHxD with foot||24.4 x 17.4 x 8 in (620 x 442 x 203mm)|
|Panel thickness:||2.5in (64mm)|
|Border width||Top/sides: 0.4 inch (10 mm)|
|Bottom: 0.7 inches (19mm)|
|Weight||10.9 lb (4.9 kg)|
We’re not going to tell you that the Dark Matter 27 42771 (that’s the Monoprice part number) delivers it all for an insanely low price. Yes, the price is low, but there are a few things left out. HDR is the most important. If that’s a factor in your purchase decision, there are plenty of alternatives in the 27-inch category, but they’ll likely come with QHD resolution and certainly at a higher price.
The Dark Matter 27 42771 focuses on speed and quality of video processing. It runs at 165 Hz with no overclocking and runs on both FreeSync and G-Sync platforms over a range of 48-165 Hz (see FreeSync vs G-Sync), and it performed flawlessly in our tests with a GeForce RTX 3090 and a Radeon RX5700XT. It is not certified by Nvidia. The overdrive implementation is solid and delivers smooth movement without disturbing blur. For added clarity, Monoprice includes a backlit flash that works instead of Adaptive-Sync.
The IPS panel has a higher-than-average contrast, over 1,400:1 in our tests, putting it above almost any comparable monitor we’ve ever tested. And among FHD displays of all sizes, it is one of the few with a wide color gamut. With over 90% DCI-P3 coverage, it surpasses many comprehensive color displays.
At $230, the Dark Matter 27 42771 is a steal. Yes, the feature list is on the short side, but it delivers where it counts. And as an FHD display, it’s a good balance for budget gaming rigs. You don’t need a premium video card to achieve high frame rates.
Mounting and accessories of Monoprice Dark Matter 42771
The Dark Matter 27 42771 comes out of its crumbly Styrofoam blocks in three pieces. You will need a Phillips screwdriver to assemble the stand after fishing the hardware out of the accessory bag. Once screwed together, it snaps onto the panel. If you prefer to use an arm, there is a 75mm cam pattern. The power supply is a small wall wart with a very thin wire. We recommend taking care when unpacking to avoid kinking. The only other cable included is DisplayPort.
Product 360: Monoprice Dark Matter 27 42771
The Dark Matter 27 42771 follows the latest generation of styling found in all Dark Matter monitors with a thin bezel, recessed screen and two red LEDs in the lower corners. More red lighting can be found at the back behind two small diffusers. You can turn it on and off in the OSD and make them run steady or flashing. A small blue LED indicates power status, solid for on and flashing for standby.
The stand is cast aluminum with a fine crinkle finish that does not reflect light and does not pick up fingerprints. It is thin but sturdy enough to support the weight of the panel without wobbling. The only adjustment is 25 degrees rear lean. On a typical desktop, you need to point the monitor at your point of view. If you want a vertical position, a riser is required.
The back is smooth with only two small white strips for lighting. In the lower corner is a small joystick that controls all monitor functions. We found it a little less intuitive than comparable controls on other monitors. Pressing it turns on the power instead of making a selection. We adapted to the non-traditional layout after a short time.
The input panel has a single DisplayPort 1.2 and two HDMI 1.4 inputs. With FHD resolution and no HDR, more bandwidth is not needed. The sound only comes from a 3.5mm headphone jack as there are no internal speakers. The entrances are clearly marked by a white strip and black text.
OSD Features of Dark Matter 27 42771
Click the joystick on the right to open the OSD of Dark Matter 27 42771. Clicking in the other three directions gives you access to input selection, four different target points, and the image modes. Pressing it switches the power and we made that mistake a few times before adapting.
There are five main picture modes plus four more under the title Game, along with three user memories. It’s a bit confusing, but the important thing to know is that if you want overdrive, you have to pick one of the game modes. The default preset is Standard and does not have overdrive or the other features shown in the far right column of the first photo.
The Adaptive-Sync and Backlight Strobe functions can be found in the Manual Image Adjust menu. Like most gaming monitors, you can’t have both on at the same time. When MPRT is enabled, the brightness drops by about 20%, indicating a wider pulse width. Motion looks a bit smoother, but we noticed some phasing artifacts in both test patterns and actual content. It looked like a double vision effect and was somewhat distracting. The best bet is to stick with Adaptive-Sync and the excellent overdrive which can be used in the advanced setting without any drawbacks.
The only calibration option is color temperature and there you get two presets plus a user mode. We used it to set a near-perfect grayscale, but we missed the gamma control. The 42771’s default gamut is bright and while the image looks punchy with saturated colors it would be better with a correct 2.2 gamut. We’ll show you the details in our tests on page four.
Monoprice Dark Matter 27 Calibration Settings 42771
The Dark Matter 27 42771’s default picture mode is Standard and while it can be calibrated to a good level, it omits the overdrive option you definitely want for gaming. To access it, we selected Game Mode and the Gamer 1 slot, then calibrated the user’s color temperature for excellent grayscale tracking.
Gamma isn’t adjustable, which is a shame because some potential for image quality remains untapped. The color is very saturated thanks to a wide color gamut. While there is no sRGB option, we expect most users will be happy with the image. Our recommended settings are below.
|Photo mode||Game / Gamer 1|
|Brightness 200 nits||57|
|Brightness 120 nits||26|
|Brightness 80 nits||13|
|Brightness 50 nits||2 (min. 45 nits|
|User color temperature||Red 92, Green 99, Blue 99|
Gaming and hands-on with Monoprice Dark Matter 27 42771
The wide color gamut of the Dark Matter 27 42771 immediately sets it apart from other FHD monitors. Remember the four elements of image quality: contrast, color saturation, color accuracy and resolution; it’s easy to see why this monitor is a standout in the category. Yes, you can find many 27-inch QHD displays with expanded colors, but at this price, FHD becomes the top resolution if you want to refresh quickly and want Adaptive-Sync.
The Dark Matter 27 42771 is colorful no matter the application. Windows images and text stand out, be it a spreadsheet or Photoshop. The contrast is excellent and the image stands out. The light gamut, which we’ll tell you about on page four, takes some of the vibrancy away. The picture is good, but with proper gamma tracking it would be even better.
Although the pixel density is relatively low at 82 ppi, the details in photos are reasonably sharp. At a viewing distance of three feet, we could just see the pixel structure, but it wasn’t distracting while browsing the web or working on documents. Editing images occasionally showed some fraying, but that wasn’t a distraction either.
Game performance was good enough to hide these minor flaws. With frame rates staying at their maximum of 165 fps, the motion resolution was very high. The Dark Matter 27 42771 has an effective overdrive that removes almost all motion blur. We tried the MPRT strobe function and noticed a phasing artifact that looked a bit like double vision. Edges were smooth, but the extra contours were negative. We stuck with Adaptive-Sync, which worked perfectly on both our FreeSync and G-Sync PCs.
While there’s no HDR here, the color was vibrant and saturated in all the games we love to play. Eternal doom is loaded with warm tones and lots of textures. This was evident whether we were fighting demons or simply exploring the rich environment.
Tomb Raider offered a similar experience with its details of wood, stone and lush foliage. Call of Duty WWII added natural-looking skin tones to the mix, along with sweat and grime that was easy to see on the characters’ faces. We noticed that when sniping at a long distance, small targets were a little more difficult to solve. Our frag counts were still high and the aim was true thanks to the low input lag and responsive panel.