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NZXT Canvas 27Q gaming monitor review: Affordable quality

pros

  • sharp pictures

  • quality color

  • great value

NZXT’s Canvas 27Q is a triumphant entrance to the monitor market.

About the NZXT Canvas 27Q

A hand plugs a USB cable into a USB port on the back of the NZXT Canvas 27Q.

Credit: Reviewed / Tim Renzi

The I/O includes a USB-C port and a built-in USB hub.

Here are the specs of the monitor we tested:

  • Display size: 27 inches
  • Resolution: 2560 x 1440 pixels
  • Refresh rate: 165Hz
  • Peakbrightness: 300 nits (rated), 347.8 nits (tested)
  • HDR support: HDR10
  • Color depth: 8-bit
  • Contrast Ratio: 1000:1 (rated), 1070:1 (tested)
  • Pixel response time: 1ms
  • ports: 2 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x USB-C, 1 x USB 3.0 (upstream), 2 x USB 3.0 (downstream), 1 x 3.5mm jack
  • VRR Support: Yes, AMD FreeSync Premium, G-Sync Compatible
  • Other features: VESA mount, optional stand

The NZXT Canvas 27Q sells as a panel-only option starting at $319 or can be ordered with a versatile stand for an extra $40. The monitor panel has standard VESA mounting hardware and is easy to set up with the many VESA mounts available on the market. NZXT provides the option of bundling in a single monitor arm for $100 more, or a dual monitor arm for $170.

What we like

High specs at a low price

A NZXT Canvas 27Q backlit with purple track lighting with a vibrant video game on display.

Credit: Reviewed / Tim Renzi

Aesthetics are one of the strong points of this monitor.

For just over $300, we’d feel lucky to get a good-looking 1080p monitor with a high refresh rate. NZXT goes much further than that, offering a great-looking 1440p monitor with a 165Hz refresh rate, AMD FreeSync Premium, and HDR support (even if it’s not dazzling).

You’d expect a few more cut corners here, but NZXT surprises at every turn with quality. The monitor is controlled with a joystick instead of cheap buttons that are hard to use. The I/O goes beyond a couple of ports for video signal and includes a USB-C port and a built-in USB hub.

Even the option to skip the display stand provides extra value for shoppers, but the $40 stand NZXT offers is as flexible as they come. It delivers a good range of height, tilt, swivel, and pivot adjustments while providing impressively stable and even packs a built-in cable routing system.

Pretty beyond its price

You shouldn’t expect a cheap monitor to deliver picture quality akin to something like the Alienware AW3423DW, with a dazzlingly bright and contrasty QD-OLED panel, but the NZXT Canvas 27Q does a great job of going beyond what we’d expect for a monitor at this price.

This monitor delivers exceptional color even before calibration. At default, it has a comfortable brightness level paired with 100% coverage of the sRGB color space and 97% coverage of the much larger DCI-P3 color space. That’s pretty impressive for any monitor, and especially so to see the Canvas 27Q deliver that with virtually faultless color accuracy, scoring an average dE of 1.15 without a single color hitting a dE above 3.0, noticeable enough where the human eye might perceive the inaccuracy.

Great gaming smoothness

Although 165Hz isn’t the absolute highest a 1440p monitor can deliver, it’s decently smooth for most gamers and a tidy upgrade over the 144Hz you’ll usually find on affordable monitors. What makes the NZXT Canvas 27Q remarkable is that it delivers an impressively low pixel response time. There’s a little blur behind fast-moving images, but no dramatic ghosting or coronas that can make for unsightly visuals.

Ghosting can also provide a hindrance in games where your ability to read and react to a scenario quickly is key. We’ve seen worse instances from more expensive monitors with faster refresh rates, like the 240Hz Cooler Master GM27-CFX.

What we don’t like

The just-okay contrast

Image settings on display on the screen of the NZXT Canvas 27Q.

Credit: Reviewed / Tim Renzi

The contrast leaves a lot to be desired.

As colorful as the monitor can get, it’s still stuck with some of the major shortcomings of its IPS panel. This technology has never been known for its high contrast ratio, and the Canvas 27Q barely edges over a 1000:1 ratio. Many VA panels offer triple that, and the few OLED options have a virtually infinite contrast ratio.

The result is that dark areas in scenes look a bit washed out on this screen, and light bleed causes areas of extreme contrast–like letterboxes–to have a bit of glow in the darker areas.

Lagging behind the HDR era

The Canvas 27Q says it supports HDR, but it simply doesn’t get bright enough or dark enough to create an impressive dynamic range. 400 nits is barely bright enough for HDR, let alone good HDR, and the Canvas 27Q falls short of even that. It proves pretty colorful, but it lacks the poignancy of higher quality HDR implementation as it can’t hit searing peak highlights or deep black levels.

Should you buy the NZXT Canvas 27Q?

Yes, if you’re looking for budget excellence

Bright greens in the scenery from a video game show off the NZXT Canvas 27Q's color performance.

Credit: Reviewed / Tim Renzi

Issues aside, this monitor offers fast pixel response, bright colors, and a great price.

The NZXT Canvas 27Q is a triumphant entrance to the monitor market for the brand. It delivers great picture quality that only falls short in specific scenarios while excelling in most everyday use cases, particularly gaming. It’s also a bonus the monitor costs only $319 while packing a 165Hz refresh rate at 1440p.

This monitor offers strong value for those on a budget who want a quality gaming display that could also double as a work monitor. Even though the Canvas 27Q doesn’t reach the heights of 240Hz monitors, its fast pixel response time keeps it competitive. And though it doesn’t have much HDR performance, it’s still reasonably bright and very colorful, and can deliver an image that pops.

If you want to go even cheaper while maintaining impressive quality, the $229 Monoprice Dark Matter 24 shaves down the resolution, refresh rate, and size but proves bright and colorful. To get a similar high-refresh-rate monitor capable of true HDR, you’ll likely be looking at paying double for the Samsung Odyssey G7 or ViewSonic Elite XG320Q.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

Meet the tester

Mark Knapp

Mark Knapp

contributor

Mark Knapp has covered tech for most of the past decade, keeping readers up to speed on the latest developments and going hands-on with everything from phones and computers to e-bikes and drones to separate the marketing from reality. Catch him on Twitter at @Techn0Mark or on Reviewed, IGN, TechRadar, T3, PCMag, and Business Insider.

See all of Mark Knapp’s reviews

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