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HP X27qc review: Ticks a few crucial boxes at a great price

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
300
inc VAT

If you’re a casual gamer on a tight budget the X27qc has almost everything you need

Pros 
Cracking contrast and brightness
Curved 1440p VA panel
Great price
Cons 
Lots of ghosting
Mildly inaccurate colours
No USB hub
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At first glance, there’s little to set the HP X27qc apart from the pack. Despite the fact that it’s a gaming monitor, there’s no recognisable Omen branding, no ostentatious, angular lines or sharp edges. But there’s more to this monitor than meets the eye.

It’s one of a growing number of cheap-ish 27in monitors to combine 1440p resolution with a refresh rate of 165Hz and, as with many of its fellows, the X27qc throws some sort of panel curvature in for good measure.

The result is a product that feels a bit too good to be true: a keenly priced gaming monitor that incorporates specifications previously reserved for much more expensive screens.

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HP X27qc review: What do you get for the money?

The HP X27qc is a 27in monitor with a VA panel, a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440, a maximum refresh rate of 165Hz, a response time of 1ms G2G (grey to grey) and a very gentle 1500R curve. It’ll set you back £300, which by 1440p gaming monitor standards is a bit of a steal.

Adaptive sync is brought to you courtesy of AMD FreeSync Premium, although I was able to get the X27qc working with Nvidia G-sync as well. Interestingly, there’s no DisplayHDR certification or HDR10 decoding to speak of, a rare occurrence where modern gaming monitors are concerned.

On the rear, connectivity is fairly rudimentary, with only a single HDMI 2.0 port, one DisplayPort 1.4 port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The lack of a USB hub is disappointing but not altogether disastrous given the target audience. The stand is similarly minimalistic, offering a mere 100mm of height adjustment and 20mm of backwards tilt.

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HP X27qc review: What do we like about it?

As I’ve already mentioned, the relatively low price tag and decent specifications are definitely appealing. While not every PC will be able to push all the way to 165Hz at 1440p, the fact that this bump in refresh rate comes at a good price makes it a no-brainer as an upgrade over the traditional 144Hz/1440p combination.

Although the low price tag is evident in the design of the X27qc, I’m on the whole happy with the build quality and broad style of the thing. I prefer clean lines to exuberant gaming fare, and, in this regard, the smooth rear and simple stand appeal more than the aggressive, angular leanings of something like the Gigabyte G27QC. Also, at 83mm thick without the stand it’s quite a trim monitor, which in tandem with the slim bezels means I’d be tempted to buy two and VESA-mount both on an aftermarket arm.

This prospect is made all the more tempting by the 1500R curve. The curve is so gentle that you won’t notice it when gaming but, to my mind, it isn’t really there to suck you into the action anyway. The X27qc uses VA panel technology, which tends to suffer from poor viewing angles; the curve mitigates this quite successfully, removing one sizable downside of VA panels in the process.

Because the X27qc has a VA panel, it benefits from a higher peak contrast ratio than IPS panels. In most modes, at maximum brightness, the contrast hovered at around 4,600:1, which is already a good result, although admittedly not unusual for a VA panel. Stick the X27qc in “Custom RGB” mode, however, and the contrast ratio peaks at an impressive 5,719:1.

Unexpectedly, this mode produced a peak luminance of 597cd/m², which is leagues above the 350cd/m² quoted by HP. I’m still a bit confused by this hidden talent, particularly since every other colour preset produces a peak luminance of 350cd/m² or less, but I’m also not complaining. It also happens that Custom RGB is the X27qc’s most colour-accurate mode, so it makes good sense to use it fairly constantly and just adjust the backlight brightness to suit the room.

On the subject of colours: the X27qc isn’t the most accurate monitor in the world, which I’ll discuss later on, but it certainly scored well for colour gamut coverage. In its default “gaming” mode – and in fact in most other colour presets – the X27qc produced 116% of the sRGB colour space, 82.7% of the DCI-P3 colour space and 80.4% of the Adobe RGB colour space. These are decent figures for a cheap gaming monitor with no HDR aspirations. In real terms, they simply mean that the X27qc doesn’t produce quite such a vibrant image when compared to panels with 90% or higher DCI-P3/Adobe RGB coverage.

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HP X27qc review: What could be better?

Given that the peak brightness is far higher than that of rival monitors, it’s a bit disappointing that the X27qc doesn’t support any form of HDR. It would do a far better job of producing entry-level DisplayHDR 400 than many of its competitors. That said, entry-level HDR adds precious little to your experience and should not be considered a necessity by any means. Frankly, the X27qc looks great without it.

Or at least, mostly great. As I’ve already indicated, the X27qc suffers from a small accuracy problem. Across the board, this monitor struggles to accurately reproduce blue tones, dragging what might otherwise have been an acceptable set of colour accuracy results into perceptible levels of inaccuracy.

The average Delta E colour variance score didn’t drop below 2.5 in any colour mode and the culprit was the same corner of the colour spectrum every time. Given the HP X27qc seems to be fairly accurate elsewhere this isn’t completely damning but it’s a shame nonetheless.

Professional video and photo editors should steer clear, then. I’d also make an effort to ward off any gamers who enjoy a lot of shooters or other reaction-based games, as the X27qc’s VA panel exhibits a large amount of ghosting.

I’m not bothered by ghosting when I game, but for those who care deeply about responsiveness, the X27qc – and VA panel technology in general – isn’t for you (unless it’s a Samsung). There are countless 1080p gaming monitors out there with absurdly high refresh rates that suit competitive FPS players down to the ground; the Acer Predator XB253QGX is one of our current favourites.

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HP X27qc review: Should you buy it?

Like the product itself, my verdict is a simple one. The X27qc is a no-fuss gaming monitor that earns a recommendation by ticking a few important boxes at an appealing price. As this combination of specifications inevitably becomes more prevalent the X27qc will face stiff competition but, at present, it sits almost entirely unrivalled.

It isn’t perfect, by any means, but if you’ve spent your budget on a half-decent gaming rig and you don’t want to sacrifice resolution or refresh rate at the altar of compromise, the X27qc is exactly what you need.

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Hp X27qc – Specifications
Panel size27in
Panel resolution2,560 x 1,440
Panel refresh rate165Hz
Panel response time2ms (G2G)
Panel typeVA
Adaptive sync supportAMD FreeSync Premium, Nvidia G-Sync compatible
HDR supportNone
Ports2 x HDMI 2, 1 x DP 1.4, 1 x 3.5mm
Other featuresNone
Stand ergonomics20° tilt, 100mm height adjustment
Dimensions (with stand)368 x 611 x ?mm (HWD)
Weight (with stand)6.9kg