October 5, 2018 // 6 p.m.
Manufacturer: Element Gaming
UK price (as reviewed): £269.97 (inc. VAT)
US price (as reviewed): Currently unavailable
If you haven’t heard of Element Gaming, you’re not the only one; we hadn’t either until this monitor landed on our desk for review. A search brought us to a website where the company described itself as follows: ‘We may be the new kid on the block but we know our products will rock the gaming world. With our revolutionary approach, our innovative design and market leading technology Element aims to bring a new and unique vibrancy to the UK gaming scene.’ Elsewhere it spoke of matching ‘high quality’ with ‘low prices’. The website has since been taken offline for a redesign, and redirects visitors to to its retail partner, Ebuyer.
While ‘high quality’ remains to be seen, ‘low prices’ certainly seems accurate going by this panel, the 27” QHD 144Hz 1ms Gaming Monitor, which actually does seem to be its product name. £270 is almost unbelievably low pricing for a 27” panel with a 1440p (QHD or 2,560 x 1,440) resolution and a 144Hz refresh rate. Yes, it’s a TN panel, but even then you’d normally expect to pay at least £100 more for a similar spec – surely there’s a catch?
The first catch is the construction. Assembling the screen is easy and involves three screws. The panel itself is also well made, and it actually looks really nice front-on thanks to a simple, clean design with minimal bezels around the top and sides (there are some small in-panel borders, though). However, the stand is the real problem and does not attach very securely at all. The primary issue is how thin the point of connection is between it and the screen, as it leaves the screen very wobbly even with the two screws. In fairness, the stand itself has some good qualities such as being made of metal and having a small footprint, but the wobbly panel is hard to overlook, and every time you touch it you set it off again.
The stand also has pretty much zero adjustment. There’s no pivot, rotation, or height adjustment, and there’s hardly even any tilt, literally just a few degrees it seems. Now, this is a TN panel and thus only really suitable for a direct, head-on viewing angle, but even with the low price in mind we don’t think we’re asking a lot for there to be a decent amount of tilt. Oh, and there’s also no VESA mounting points, which seems very daft - we're told this is being worked into the next version, at least.
Display inputs include dual-link DVI-I, HDMI 2.0, and DisplayPort 1.2 connectors, as well as the power input and an audio jack for hijacking the digital audio (there are no speakers, thankfully). They face backwards and are thus nice and easy to access and use.
Both the HDMI and DisplayPort connection support 144Hz 1440p, but FreeSync over HDMI is not supported. This made it particularly irksome that we didn’t even get a DisplayPort cable in the box, but thankfully we've since learned that all units currently in stock do now have one bundled.
Menu navigation is handled by a joystick on the back. In theory this is great, as it avoids having buttons on the front and is usually more intuitive. We say usually, because the implementation here is poor. The joystick itself is horribly loose, and our initial instinct to press it inwards to select an option on the menu simply turned it off. Despite the fact the menu is laid out with options stacked vertically, and secondary options listed to the right, you actually push the stick left to move to the next option, which – again – is on the right. Like anything, you do get used to it, but it certainly threw us for a while.
The menu itself has fairly standard options, and you get control over gamma and white point. There’s a small selection of colour modes as well: ‘Movie’ ups the contrast a lot and deepens blacks, which isn’t so bad, but ‘Game’ has a very odd washed out, desaturated effect. We can’t imagine many people will use them. Other options include a low blue light setting, overdrive, and dynamic contrast. Interestingly, the brightness setting is only activated via a special menu; Element Gaming says it has calibrated it for optimal viewing, and indeed the screen does appear dimmer than most do out of the box. That’s actually a good thing, though, as most screens are set way too high for healthy long-term viewing, whereas this one is instantly comfortable yet easily bright enough for indoor use.