For a tech enthusiast, the end of November to just after Christmas is a cherished time of the year. During these five weeks or so, our favorite online retailers hit our most anticipated and wished for items with steep markdowns and leave our wallets quaking with the aftershocks. This year, I had the chance to test drive AOC's new 27” LED-backlit beauty, the E2752She. Featuring a 2ms response time and a price set to compete with its biggest competitors, the E2752She represents an excellent value for gamers on a budget.
The first thing you're likely to notice about AOC's latest offering is just how big its LCD screen really is. When the monitor arrived at my house, I expected a modest upgrade from my 23” Asus. Yet the added four inches take up a much wider field of view and make it much easier to slip into your favorite game. I tend to play with the lights off and running through the Lone Lands in Lord of the Rings Online has rarely felt so immersive. The hardware is sleek with a glossy black finish and a matte black screen to eliminate glare. The glossy trim is a fingerprint and dust magnet, but as a centerpiece for any gamer's command station, it looks slick and more than a little impressive.
On the backside you will find two horizontal HDMI ports for easy installation, a VGA input, and two 3.5mm jacks for receiving and sending audio. The E2752She can accept each of input simultaneously and can be switched between on the fly. This makes it a good fit for users who might also want to run a cable box or console, but with no built-in speakers, wrapping audio into the mix will require headphones or other outside components. The monitor is also wall mount ready, should you be inclined to purchase a kit.
The pedestal is disappointingly cheap. Whereas the monitor feels hefty and solidly built, yet remaining quite thin, the mount feels like it could break if pushed just a little too far or too often. The lightweight plastic has a tendency to flex causing the screen to rock along its wide screen. This wouldn't be much of an issue if not for the power, menu, and volume buttons mounted along the bottom-right edge which cause the monitor to wobble in a worrying way for its long term durability.
I am also disappointed that AOC did not include a DVI port, or a VGA-to-DVI adapter. While many upper end video cards support HDMI, many only connect with DVI, so connectivity issues may be present for some users.
The LCD panel is LED-backlit, providing a crisp, bright picture with native 1080p (1920x1080) resolution. Blacks are deep and true, as you might expect from a monitor with a 20,000,000:1 contrast ratio. If you're playing something like The Secret World and want to know just what's hiding in the dark, don't worry: the onboard menu not only lets you adjust brightness and contrast, but also select from three different gamma settings to fit your preference.
The E2752She features Dynamic Contrast Ratio (DCR) which automatically adjusts black levels based on what's being displayed. On paper, this function aims to deliver what many gamers have been clamoring for: darkness that feels like more than just different shades of blue. In practice, however, DCR isn't nuanced enough to be worthwhile for gaming. It makes darks darker, but rather than adding to the immersion, I found myself squinting to make out fine detail anytime I wasn't in a bright, sunny setting.
The panel also features a 2 millisecond response time making it a perfect fit for the gamer who plays more than MMOs. In first-person shooters, input lag can be deadly. 2 milliseconds is the headshot to input lag.
I was generally impressed with the picture quality of the monitor, but it did require some tweaking to bring out its best. The menu offers a number of ECO options based on your use – sports, movies, gaming – but most just made the screen darker. When I left the screen on “Standard” and chose my settings, I was much happier with the result. Colorwise, the E2752She offers a somewhat washed out palette out of the the box, and I was sad to see that it lacked a dedicated color or saturation setting. Bumping up the saturation within Windows made it shine, though I love rich, vibrant color.
There was one notable problem I was not able to calibrate my way out of: in full-screen games, horizontal scan lines have a tendency to appear causing a noticeable flickering. Even adjusting the monitor's phase setting as suggested in the manual made no difference. When you're moving, the scan lines seem to disappear. Still, the flickering can be distracting when you're hanging around town and take some getting used to.
It should also go without saying, but making the jump to 27-inches means losing some pixel density when compared with smaller 1080p screens. Video game graphics are still very sharp, but it would have been nice to see a higher native resolution for a monitor this size.