The MSI Optix MAG273R has more contrast than other IPS screens and flawless video processing. Although HDR is limited, it is worth a look for budget-conscious gamers.

+FOR

  • Exceptional contrast
  • Color saturated
  • Input lag is low.
  • Excellent value

– AGAINST

  • HDR looks to be SDR.
  • Gamma light

Monitor speed is usually an important aspect of any form of gaming competition. The resolution, pixel density, and contrast all have an impact on image quality, but professional players want high frame rates and rapid control response from their finest gaming display.

If you want to keep your gameplay above 100 frames per second (fps), a 1080p monitor is the simplest method to do so. When fewer pixels are moved, less computing power is required. For buyers, this technique reduces hardware prices (no requirement for the top cards in our GPU benchmarks hierarchy) while still providing a fantastic gaming experience.

The MSI Optix MAG273R is a 1080p, 27-inch IPS monitor with a 144 Hz frame rate, Adaptive-Sync, extended colour, and HDR for $250-$260. (as of this writing). It’s geared at eSports fans, but it also works well in other fast-paced action games.

Specifications for the MSI Optix MAG273R

Panel Type / BacklightIPS / W-LED, edge array
Screen Size / Aspect Ratio27 inches / 16:9
Max Resolution & Refresh Rate1920 x 1080 @ 144 Hz; FreeSync: 30-144 Hz, G-Sync Compatible
Native Color Depth & Gamut10-bit (8-bit+FRC) / sRGB+, HDR10
Response Time (GTG)1ms
Max Brightness250 nits
Contrast1,000:1
Speakers2x 3w
Video Inputs1x DisplayPort 1.2, 2x HDMI 2.0
Audio3.5mm headphone output
USB 2.01x up, 2x down
Power Consumption21.1w, brightness @ 200 nits
Panel Dimensions (WxHxD w/base)24.3 x 16.6-21.8 x 8.1 inches (617 x 422-554 x 206mm)
Panel Thickness2.6 inches (65mm)
Bezel WidthTop/sides: 0.4 inch (9mm); Bottom: 0.5 inch (12mm)
Weight13.5 pounds (6.1kg)
Width3 years

The Optix MAG273R begins with an IPS panel with a flicker-free backlight capable of a stated 250 nits of maximum brightness and a large color gamut, namely sRGB+. In this example, MSI takes a novel approach to extended colour. Most wide gamut displays merely adhere to the DCI-P3 standard and undersaturate the green primary by 10% or more. The MAG273R, on the other hand, adheres to sRGB for the majority of the saturation range and boosts just the brightest hues. The overall effect is more natural-looking. We’ll go into further detail on page three.

Although AMD FreeSync is the native Adaptive-Sync for combating screen tearing, we were able to run Nvidia G-Sync on our test sample despite the fact that it is not certified by Nvidia (you can learn how I our How to Run G-Sync on a FreeSync Monitor tutorial). FreeSync operates at 30 to 144 Hz and supports Low Framerate Compensation (LFC) to prevent tearing at any speed.

Low motion blur in the form of a backlight strobe is also included. When enabled, it also disables both HDR and Adaptive-Sync.

MSI’s MAG273R is advertised as HDR-ready, and our tests confirmed HDR10 capability. However, when it comes to Adaptive-Sync, HDR only works with FreeSync, not the unofficial G-Sync support we discovered.

There aren’t many bells and whistles here, but performance is the key to success. At roughly $300, the MAG237R appears to be a good bargain for budget systems. Let’s take a closer look.

MSI MAG273R Assembly and Accessories

Assembling the MSI MAG273R is simple if you have a Phillips-head screwdriver. The captive bolt connects the base to the upright, and the panel hooks on and is secured with two screws.

If you prefer to use your own bracket, additional hardware for the 100mm VESA installation is available. HDMI and USB cables are included, as well as a small external power supply.

MSI MAG273R 360 Product

The MSI MAG273R has a 9mm wide flush-mounted bezel. An image is displayed on the screen when It is only visible. The bottom has a broader strip with the MSI logo in the centre. The screen is free of grain and artefacts, and it prevents all but the brightest room lights from reflecting. The stand is of high quality, with a 5.2-inch height adjustment and a tilt range of -5/20 degrees. There is no swivel or portrait mode available. The movements are solid and clear of frills.

The power switch is a tiny key beneath the right side, while all other controls are managed by a single joystick on the rear. In the back, there’s also an appealing shield-shaped graphic with a dragon against a red background.

An LED lighting element runs across the top, above the upright. You can utilise the on-screen display (OSD) or MSI’s Gaming OSD desktop programme to toggle it. The RGB can be used in conjunction with MSI’s Mystic Light products to create a system-wide light show.

The MSI MAG273R’s input panel includes two HDMI 2.0 connectors and one DisplayPort 1.2a port (for gaming comparisons, see our HDMI vs DisplayPort article). FreeSync can be used at 144 Hz on either interface, although unofficial G-Sync compatibility requires DisplayPort. HDR is also supported by both input formats, but only with FreeSync. A 3.5mm audio port allows you to listen to music using headphones or powered speakers. There are no built-in speakers. You also get three USB 2.0 ports (one upstream and two downstream) for connecting peripherals.

MSI MAG273R OSD Features

When you press the joystick, the MAG273R’s OSD appears, taking up a big section of the screen. The resolution, frame rate, HDR and FreeSync status, and active input are all displayed at the top of each menu.

The Gaming menu includes five image modes focused at various game kinds. The default and optimum option is user, which allows for image modifications. Night Vision enhances the visibility of shadow detail by increasing the black level. Response time has three levels of overdrive. We ran it at its highest setting with no obvious ghosting.

Anti-Motion Blur is a strobe in the backlight that disables overdrive and Adaptive-Sync. It also diminishes brightness by 50%. When we used it, we noticed noticeable phasing, thus we recommend turning it off. Refresh Rate is a frame rate counter that may be placed in any corner of the screen. Alarm Clock functions as a countdown timer, while Screen Assistance provides a variety of aiming locations. You receive five distinct reticle shapes in red or white, and you can move them across the screen with the joystick.

The Professional sub-menu includes the backlight strobe option as well as dynamic contrast (HDCR) and four more picture settings. The final one, HDR, aims to replicate the HDR effect with SDR content. We weren’t fans of it, but people should give it a shot before making a decision. Ringing around high-contrast objects is added by Image Enhancement. We recommend leaving it out.

The calibration adjustments for the MAG273R may be found in the Image menu. You receive three colour temperature settings as well as a set of RGB sliders. With them, we were able to obtain good grayscale tracking. We wished there were more gamma options because the default brightness curve was too light, measuring closer to 1.9 than 2.2.

MSI Optix MAG273R Calibration Parameters

For calibration and testing, we stayed with the MAG273R’s User mode. We modified the RGB sliders after selecting the User colour temp to produce a pretty precise white point. Because there are no colour gamut alternatives, DCI-P3 is used for all material, SDR and HDR.

The MSI Optix MAG273R settings we recommend are listed below.

Picture ModeUser
Brightness 200 nits49
Brightness 120 nits20
Brightness 100 nits14
Brightness 80 nits8 (minimum 56 nits)
Contrast70
Color Temp UserRed 92, Green 100, Blue 93

When an HDR10 signal is applied, the display immediately enters HDR mode, where all image adjustments are disabled.

Hands-on and gaming

When we first booted up Windows on the MSI MAG273R, the first thing we noticed was the superb contrast. Though the contrast on this IPS panel isn’t quite as high as that of a VA monitor, the MSI offers a little higher dynamic range than other IPS panels, and the difference was noticeable in a side-by-side comparison. The MAG273R also makes excellent use of its wide colour gamut to enhance SDR content without over-saturation. This level of detail makes it easy to forget you’re gazing at an FHD display. Even though the pixel density is only 81 pixels per inch (ppi), the eye is tricked into thinking the resolution is larger.

The detail of tiny letters and icons is good, although there are a few ragged lines here and there. A 27-inch 1440p or 4K resolution monitor, such as those in our Best 4K Gaming Monitors list, is a better tool if you spend the majority of your time editing documents and spreadsheets.

We became less aware of the MAG273R’s lower quality whether viewing graphics, photographs, or videos. With the overdrive set to its highest speed, moving images are reproduced cleanly. There was no ghosting, and motion blur was quite low at 60 Hz and significantly lower at 144 Hz.

As we progressed through Tomb Raider’s jungles and caves, we were struck once more by the MAG273R’s contrast. Even though our studies showed only approximately 15% increased dynamic range, it appeared to be far more to the human eye. MSI designed the colour tracking to take full advantage of the wide gamut, and it shows in this SDR-encoded game. The precise portrayal of textures and surfaces brought out the detail wonderfully. Specular highlights shone brightly, while dark areas were nearly true black, with visible shadow detail.

We used FreeSync and maximum overdrive for video processing because we found no benefit from the MAG273R’s backlight strobe option. The lighting strobe lowered the image too much, and the lack of Adaptive-Sync was obvious. We had no problems with either FreeSync or (unofficial) G-Sync enabled. There was no stuttering, ripping, or ghosting in the control response. The MAG273R features a top-tier overdrive implementation. Regardless of how rapid the action was, motion resolution was always high.

When coupled with a machine equipped with either a Radeon RX 5700 XT or a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics card, frame rates remained constant at 144 fps. Because of its FHD panel, many computers with less processing power than ours will be able to run the MAG273R at 144 Hz. For sure, speed is this monitor’s strong suit.

HDR gaming is essentially out of the question here. Running in HDR mode provides no visual benefit because contrast is no higher than in SDR mode. HDR worked perfectly with FreeSync, however when we switched to G-Sync, HDR didn’t work despite the lack of Nvidia certification. HDR is best used for watching movies; it is useless for gaming.

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