MSI MAG272CQR Monitor: USB-C And a Cool Stand Don't Make Up for Other Issues

Evaluation:
6/10
?

1 – Absolute Hot Garbage
2 – Lukewarm garbage from Sorta
3 – Highly imperfect design
4 – Some advantages, many disadvantages
5 – Acceptably imperfect
6 – Good enough to buy on sale
7 – Great, but not the best in its class
8 – Fantastic, with a few footnotes
9 – Shut up and take my money
10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: $ 400

MSI MAG272CQR from the front. Michael Crider

Do you need a game monitor? Not really. Does this improve the game on your PC? Measurably, especially if your computer is powerful enough to exceed normal frame rates. The MSI Optix MAG series is in the middle of the pack when it comes to features, but it’s a balance between price and versatility.

Here’s what we like

USB Type-C connection
Strong and versatile support
Good resolution and hz for games
OSD can be controlled from Windows

And what we don’t do

The helmet holder is janky
Low power USB-C
OSD cannot be controlled via USB-C

the Optix MAG272CQR (rolls on the tongue, huh?) is at the top of this particular line, with a curved 2560 × 1440 panel, an impressive 165 Hz refresh rate, forward-looking USB-C connectivity and improved support with vertical adjustment. With all of these bonuses, it’s still only $ 400, which isn’t bad, but not the best value available either.

It’s a solid choice if you’re looking for a versatile monitor capable of handling intense gaming sessions, but offers nothing to make it exceptional. Those looking for a discount can check out the rest of the surprisingly robust lineup, which removes some of the above functionality.

Business front, player back

From the front and with the branded sticker removed, the MAG272CQR (I’ll call it “MAG” from now on) looks like a fairly conventional monitor design. It’s a bit taller than usual at 27 inches, with the curved panel becoming ubiquitous. Thanks to thin glasses with a thick base, it’s almost exactly the same size as my dusty 24 inch Dells.

MSI MAG272CQR from the rear. The little asymmetrical RGB lights are hardly worth playing. Michael Crider

Turn the monitor over and you can see the MSI “gamer” aesthetic in action. The cheeky dragon badge, the red control stick, the printed circuit board accents and of course, the LED light bar. This is a monitor designed to be seen from the back … probably on an eSports stage somewhere.

MSI MAG272CQR of the size. The large heavy stand included is pretty good – it has five inches of vertical adjustment. Michael Crider

The support is angular and brushed with a convenient hole for cable routing, and I appreciate the inclusion of five inches of vertical height adjustment. The screen goes up and down with a slight pressure and remains reassuringly in place. Note that even if the MAG 27 supports standard VESA mounting, the mount cannot rotate for vertical mode.

Technical stuff

The MAG 27 datasheet is presented as a checklist of everything players want, with a few exceptions. The refresh rate, 165 Hz, is above all sufficient to give a spectacular boost to the animations in the game (if your PC can manage the framerate). It’s not the highest – 240 Hz and 300 Hz monitors exist – but it’s a substantial upgrade and well worth it in this price range.

Then the resolution: 2560 × 1440, also known as 1440p, 2K or “quad HD / QHD”, is quickly becoming the new standard for gaming. Just enough to give a boost to refine the graphics of the game, without overloading a graphics card in 4K. The 27-inch is also a good size: large enough to appreciate the boost, but small enough so that you cannot count pixels, like some 32-inch monitors.

MSI Optix MAG272CQR helmet holder.I prefer to have more USB ports than this little plastic helmet holder. Michael Crider

Elsewhere, you get a curved VA panel (not universal in the MAG series), a millisecond response time for intense multiplayer games, and a somewhat silly pop-out hanger for your gaming headset. It sagged when I put a light plastic set on it, and I haven’t spoiled it since. I much prefer to exchange this plastic gadget for a second pair of USB ports on a more accessible edge.

In terms of connections, the MAG has the usual DisplayPort and HDMI ports (two of these), but there is an improved option here: USB-C. I love that. [Editor’s note: Michael, I hate you.] This allows video connection and access to the monitor’s headphone jacks and two standard USB-A ports, but take note: even my slinky little Pixel Slate complained that it was a low-power charger.

MSI Optix MAG272CQR ports. Michael Crider

This means that more powerful laptops, especially anything that has a discrete GPU, will need more juice than this thing can provide. You will not be able to plug a laptop into this screen and remove anything from it, but a maintenance charge, and it will probably run out a bit unless you also plug in an AC adapter.

Note that the MAG is compatible with AMD FreeSync, like most new monitors, but lacks the dedicated hardware to take advantage of NVIDIA’s G-SYNC system. This is not a bad thing – it generally increases the price of a NVIDIA game monitor and cards dramatically. now also use a kinda-sorta-FreeSync compatible mode.

In-game experience

The use of MAG was pleasant, without being remarkable. I put it in my rack of three monitors instead of my own 32 inch Samsung, also a curved VA panel with a resolution of 1440p. I found more or less the same performance, with maybe a little extra brightness. 165 Hz is better than my usual 120 Hz, but not so dramatic that I could immediately appreciate the difference – younger users with better eyes might see what I can’t.

MSI Optix MAG272CQR control stick. Michael Crider

In the game, the performance was almost flawless, providing fluid and relatively brilliant graphics to my Overwatch, Rocket League and Skul: The Hero Slayer sessions. Increasing the Hz obviously decreases the brightness, as is the case with any monitor, but I did not find the 165Hz mode significantly darker than the 144Hz mode on my Samsung monitor.

Naturally, I had the same problems as me with the Samsung: its color accuracy is not enough to be trusted when I do graphic work. I have to move Photoshop to Dell Ultrasharp to get an accurate white balance. But I recognize that this is a fairly trivial question for most users, especially those who are specifically looking for a monitor to play. This is not a break for a VA type panel, but an excellent compromise between the speed of the TN and the precision of the IPS.

MSI Optix MAG272CQR OSD menu system. It’s a lot to manage with this little plastic stick… Michael Crider

There are a ton of options on this monitor. In addition to the usual monitor, you have different “modes” for reading, watching movies, maximizing HDR content, etc., as well as game-oriented features like targeted overlay, it’s just a shame that using of all these complex options is a pain with the small button of the joystick, the only way to access it directly. The layout and interface of the internal system is confusing and unnecessarily styled.

OSD software

The good news is that you don’t have to use it or, at the very least, you don’t need to use a joystick that you can’t actually see. With the MSI OSD utility for Windows, you can control the various hardware settings of the MAG monitor. You can activate it as a standard program, or by pressing the “G” button in front of the power button (which can also be linked to specific profiles or a window manager). The program also allows you to activate predefined profiles, including the significant refresh rate that changes the brightness, with the keyboard commands of any program.

OSD software MSI Optix MAG272CQR. … And it’s much easier with a mouse and a keyboard.

It is a good system combined with a bad user interface. Allowing universal keyboard commands helps alleviate most of this. As someone who has spent hours playing with the monitor buttons trying to get multiple screens to match each other’s color profiles, I can certainly appreciate it. I just wish, oh as I wish, you can use it with only the USB-C connection – the program won’t detect the monitor unless you have the old USB-A-to-USB-B cable plugged in on your machine. It doesn’t matter for a large gaming desk that never moves, but for a laptop, it’s unnecessary pain.

The monitor’s RGB lighting is … well, there it is. I can sort of see it on my office wall when I use it, but it’s both weak and asymmetrical, so I didn’t like it aesthetically. It also doesn’t help that you need a second program to handle it – you can’t control color or animation from the MSI OSD program or the larger MSI accessory driver. If you want lighting, get a USB light strip instead.

MSI Optix MAG272CQR lighting software. Lighting software does not integrate with other MSI applications.

There’s one more thing I’m going to rent: MAG uses a standard power cord, the same type as a desktop PC. I appreciate this, especially because many monitors (even gaming models!) Switch to external power supplies, which creates awkward portable-style power cords. Thank you for tidying up the back of my desk, MSI.

Some troubles

Aside from the almost useless headset support and the overly complex screen display, the only other problem I have with the monitor’s performance is a slight bleeding, visible on the left side of our review panel. It’s not visible most of the time, but watching darker videos or anything in a mailbox will show them.

MSI Optix MAG272CQR power button. Michael Crider

It’s not a big deal most of the time, and again, the mainstream audience of gamers probably won’t care. What worries me most is how the monitor manages power. On my desk, he was not sleeping properly. When Windows closed the monitor screens after 10 minutes, it remained on, displaying everything in black but still clearly activating the backlight. This wastes electricity and harms the health of the LCD screen in the long run. This can be fixed in a future driver update, but for the moment, it’s very distracting.

Wait for a sale or choose another Optix

Overall, these are minor problems. But combined with other little annoyances like the need for a second USB cable to control the OSD or the lack of high charge of the USB-C, they definitely leave the MAG in the middle of the pack.

MSI Optix MAG272CQR with USB-C laptop. Michael Crider

At $ 400, there aren’t many reasons to choose this screen over its similar competitors. That said, there are many very similar models in the MAG 27 inch range, all cheaper than this flagship product. If you can live without 1440p resolution or USB-C connection, or if you don’t need a stand because you’re already using a multi-monitor bay, some of them may be more appropriate for both your configuration and your budget.

Otherwise, the on-screen system accessible from Windows may appeal to those who constantly need to change settings, but that’s it. If you can find the MAG model on sale for $ 50 or more – which seems likely, if you keep an eye out – it’s worth considering. Otherwise, keep looking.

Here’s what we like

USB Type-C connection
Strong and versatile support
Good resolution and hz for games
OSD can be controlled from Windows

And what we don’t do

The helmet holder is janky
Low power USB-C
OSD cannot be controlled via USB-C

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